Foley Hoag received a favorable decision from the Boston Housing Court for pro bono client "Jane Doe" (JD) in a case referred to the firm by Medical Legal Partnership Boston.
JD, who had been homeless for several years, applied to participate in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program administered by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). She was eligible for priority status based on homelessness, but the BHA denied her application because she had failed to provide third-party verification of her homelessness for every day of the three-year period that she had been on the waiting list. JD had lived in her car rather than homeless shelters for a substantial portion of the relevant period, which, along with her mental health disabilities, made obtaining third-party verification impossible.
JD requested that she be permitted to establish her homelessness in part through her own testimony as a reasonable accommodation for her mental health disabilities. The BHA denied the request, finding that even considering JD's testimony, she had failed to carry the burden of proof of demonstrating that she was homeless for every night which she did not have third-party verification.
Foley Hoag attorneys sought review of the BHA’s decisions in the Boston Housing Court, which found that the BHA had erred in requiring JD to prove that she was homeless every single night she was on the waiting list. The Court also found that the BHA’s administrative plan for the Section 8 Program only required that she show that she “lacked a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime habitation.” Furthermore, the Court held that based on the unique circumstances of the case “the inference that Doe (our client) was in fact continuously without a ‘fixed, regular and adequate nighttime habitation’ during the entire period she was on the BHA waiting list is legally inescapable.” The Court ordered the BHA to restore JD to the top of the Section 8 waiting list and accept her eligibility for priority status based on homelessness as an established fact.