9th Circuit gives HUD's drug-eviction policy the boot

January 25, 2001
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday struck down federal regulations allowing local housing authorities to evict tenants whose friends and family engage in drug activity, even if the tenants know nothing of the crime.
      A seven-judge majority on the sharply divided en banc panel ridiculed the one-strike-and-you're-out policy as "odd" and "absurd" in holding that 1988 congressional reforms aimed at making public housing safer for law-abiding tenants could not be interpreted to effect the eviction of so-called "innocent tenants."
      "Innocent [public housing] tenants live barricaded behind doors, in fear for their safety and the safety of their children," wrote Judge Michael Daly Hawkins. "What these tenants may not realize is that, under existing policies of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, they should add another fear to their list: becoming homeless if a household member or guest engages in criminal drug activity on or off the tenant's property, even if the tenant did not know of or have any reason to know of such activity."