Founded in 1967, the Legal Aid Justice Center provides civil legal assistance to low-income families and individuals in Virginia with a special focus on vulnerable populations, including children, immigrants, the elderly, and the institutionalized. Our mission is to seek equal justice for all by solving clients’ legal problems, strengthening the voices of low-income communities, and rooting out the inequities that keep people in poverty. Our Civil Advocacy Program, one of our five main program areas, focuses on housing, health and mental health services, consumer protection, employment and unemployment, and public benefits.
THE CASE: To keep public housing affordable for lower-income households, the United States Housing Act directs that the resident’s share of rent in most federally assisted housing programs be limited to no more than 30% of the household’s adjusted monthly income. This tenant housing payment includes both rent and the additional costs for reasonable amounts of utilities that are not included in the rent. In an effort to ensure that residents’ basic housing costs are appropriately limited, federal guidelines require local housing authorities to justify, document and update the schedule of utility allowances for their residential units. Tenants’ usage is metered and they are billed for amounts over the allowance. It is generally expected that only a small minority of tenants will receive excess charges on a monthly basis. On behalf of a group of affected tenants, we are investigating noncompliance with these requirements by a local housing authority. We have not yet filed suit.
Contact: Alex R. Gulotta, Executive Director, Legal Aid Justice Center, 1000 Preston Avenue, Suite A, Charlottesville, VA 22903