- When is a public housing grievance hearing held?
- Who hears public housing grievances?
- What happens at a public housing grievance hearing?
- What happens if I do not show up at the public housing grievance hearing?
When is a public housing grievance hearing held?
hearing panel or officer receives your grievance, the panel or officer must
schedule a date for your hearing and then give you and the housing authority
staff written notice of the time and place of the hearing. Either side may
postpone a hearing, by agreement of both sides or for what is called good
cause, such as illness, unavoidable absence of a party or witness, or failure to
allow you to review documents a sufficient amount of time before the
State public housing
eviction cases in state public housing, a grievance hearing must be scheduled
within 14 days. In addition, the hearing must be scheduled at least 15 days
prior to the termination date on your notice. You must be given notice of not
less than 7 days of the time and place for the hearing. A hearing of a grievance
on other issues should be scheduled as soon as reasonably convenient
following receipt of the grievance.2
Federal public housing regulations require that the
hearing be scheduled promptly and at a location reasonably convenient to
both the housing authority and the tenant. Notice of the hearing must, in
addition to stating the time and place of the grievance hearing, also state what
procedures will govern the hearing.3 Under federal rules, a
housing authority may establish what is called an expedited or quick grievance
procedure concerning evictions that involve criminal or drug-related
Who hears public housing grievances?
An impartial hearing
officer or hearing panel will hear your grievance and provide a decision.
Impartial means that the hearing officer cannot be a person (or the
subordinate of that person) who held your informal settlement conference or
who was involved in the issue being grieved in any way.
officer or member of a hearing panel cannot have any direct personal or
financial interest in the outcome of the dispute. Nor can an officer or panel
member be related by blood or marriage to any party or any person who is
the source of evidence (for example, a witness for the housing authority). If
you feel that a hearing officer or panel member will not be able to act
impartially in deciding your case, you can ask that the person not hear the
case and that there be a substitute hearing officer or panel
The Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants
provides trainings for hearing officers and panel members about how to handle
grievances. If the housing authority is setting up a hearing panel or recruiting
new panel members at your housing authority, you may want to suggest to
the housing authority that they contact the Mass. Union for training
assistance. They can be reached at 617-825-9750.
What happens at a public housing grievance hearing?
hearing must be conducted in a fair manner. At the hearing, the hearing officer
or panel will ask both you and the housing authority to tell your side of the
story. It is not uncommon for a hearing officer or panel to ask a tenant to go
first. At the hearing, both you and the housing authority have the right
- tell your side of the story,
- question anyone who
- question the validity or accuracy of any
Right to a person of your choice at the
You and the housing authority have the right to have a
lawyer, advocate, or any other person of your choosing with you during the
grievance hearing and throughout all stages of the grievance process. In fact,
you can be accompanied by up to three people of your choosing at all stages
of the grievance process.
Public or private hearing
As a state or federal public housing tenant, you have a right to request that a
hearing be open to the public.5 Housing authorities cannot
request that a hearing be public. If you have supporters and want them to
come to the hearing, or this is a high-visibility case and you want the news
media present, having a public hearing may be helpful to you. On the other
hand, there can be private information that would come out at a hearing and
you might not want it to be public.
If you request that a hearing be
open to the public, this will occur unless the hearing officer or panel orders
otherwise.6 If you don't make such a request, the
hearing is held in private.
A hearing officer
or panel may exclude any person who does not conduct himself or herself in
an orderly fashion. If you or your supporters misbehave at the hearing, the
hearing officer or panel may take other measures to deal with the
misbehavior- including dismissing the
hearing, you have a right to submit written evidence such as a lease, or other
documents to support your position.8 This is very important,
because a hearing officer or panel cannot consider evidence unless either you
or the housing authority present it at the time of the hearing. The only time
that evidence can be submitted after a hearing is if a hearing officer or panel
requests it. Also, it is important to give hearing officers or panels copies of
relevant laws, policies, and rules so that they can take these into consideration
when making a decision.
If the housing
authority is asked to submit additional information, you must be given an
opportunity to respond to it (and vice versa).
In addition to presenting evidence at the hearing,
you have the right to bring people who have personal or direct knowledge
about the problem to testify at the hearing. If the housing authority brings
witnesses to testify, you also have a right to ask those people questions
about what they are saying. A hearing officer or panel may also question any
If the housing authority does not have witnesses who
personally know what went on, they may not be able to win the grievance.
For example, if the housing authority is relying only on the testimony of the
manager who received reports of your suspected misconduct from other
people, but the people who reported the conduct do not testify, you can ask
the manager whether she has any personal knowledge of the misconduct. If
the manager says no, you can ask the hearing officer or panel to rule against
the housing authority because the manager does not have any direct personal
knowledge of your misconduct and because you have not been given the
opportunity to question the people who reported the conduct.
Record of the hearing
The housing authority must keep some
What happens if I do not show up at the public housing grievance
State public housing
There are no
provisions under state law about what happens if a tenant or housing
authority does not show up for a hearing. However, many housing authorities
follow the federal regulations outlined below.
Under federal regulations, if you do not show up at the
grievance hearing and you do not request a postponement (or what is called a
continuance), the hearing officer or panel may:
- postpone the
hearing for 5 working days or
- decide that you have given up
(waived) your right to a hearing.
The same is true if the housing
authority does not show up at the grievance hearing.
If the hearing
officer or panel must decide how to proceed due to the failure of either party
to show up, they should send written notice to both parties of the action
taken. If a hearing officer or panel decides to deny your right to a hearing, you
can still challenge a housing authority's actions in
(3); 760 C.M.R. § 6.08(4)(e).
6The regulations don’t discuss what your rights are if
the request for a public hearing is turned down.
8The hearing panel is not required to follow the rules