NYC Housing Authority Sued for Revoking Rent Vouchers

A lawsuit alleges the New York City Housing Authority improperly revoked more than 3,000 housing vouchers for low-income families.

Legal Aid attorney Judith Goldiner filed the class action suit today and says the housing authority broke rules by not holding public hearings and by not officially notifying families their vouchers were being revoked.

"People are in a very desperate situation and right before the holidays are being told we're taking away your voucher, you're not going to be able to afford your rent and we're not going to give you anything in writing about that," Goldiner says.

Last week the Housing Authority announced the vouchers could not be honored because of a lack of federal funds and because fewer people were returning vouchers, likely because of the bad economy.

The federal subsidy helps low-income families pay rent in private apartments. More than half the vouchers were going to formerly homeless families like Emil Yoanson and his six year old son. The lawsuit says Yoanson survives off disability and welfare payments of just over $800. His rent was being paid by a city and state funded subsidy that expired and without the federal Section 8 vouchers, the lawsuit says he can't afford rent.

"If these families go into shelter it will cost $3,000 a month," Goldiner says. "If instead the city helps them out on a short-term basis, it costs about $800 a month."

The Housing Authority says it won't comment until the lawsuit gets reviewed.