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City Illegally Cut Benefits To Low-Income Section 8 Recipients, Says Federal Court

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An apartment building in Santa Monica (Photo by GarySe7en via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr)
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The Los Angeles Housing Authority illegally reduced rent subsidies to about 22,500 Section 8 recipients, including 5,000 elderly families, a federal court ruled. The city could possibly owe millions in damages.On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that in 2004 the Housing Authority failed to give proper notice about the impending cuts in subsidies, saying the flier sent out was "incomprehensible" and also failed to provide any contact information. "In no respect does [the flier] reasonably inform its intended recipients of the changes to the payment standard, the meaning of those changes, or, most important, their effect upon the recipient," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the ruling. According to City News Service, those affected by the cuts wound up paying an average of $104 more for their monthly rent.

According to Courthouse News Service the cuts came as a result of federal budget cuts in 2004. Federal laws require the agency to tell recipients that their benefits would be cut at least a year in advance, but the court found that they had only given four weeks notice.

"After eight years of litigation, this is a fabulous result for low-income tenants," Stephanie Carroll, senior staff attorney at Public Counsel, told the L.A. Times.

Attorneys for the recipients say their clients could be owed millions of dollars for the benefits cuts between 2004 and 2006, though compensation would be decided on by another court.