November 21, 2016
Petition for Review of an Order of the District of Columbia
Housing Authority (C-393-14)
Mellen Harrison, Legal Aid Society of the District of
Columbia, with whom Jonathan H. Levy, Legal Aid Society of
the District of Columbia, was on the brief, for petitioner.
Frederick A. Douglas, with whom Curtis A. Boykin and Alex M.
Chintella were on the brief, for respondent.
A. Readier, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Channing D.
Phillips, United States Attorney, and Mark B. Stern and Sarah
Carroll, Attorneys, Appellate Staff, Civil Division, U.S.
Department of Justice, were on the brief for the United
States as amicus curiae in support of respondent.
Fisher and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Belson, Senior
MCLEESE, ASSOCIATE JUDGE.
Nelson Bostic seeks review of a decision of the District of
Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) to terminate him from a
housing-voucher program because Mr. Bostic is required to
register for life as a convicted sex offender. Mr. Bostic
contends that DCHA's decision is contrary to federal law.
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is a rent-subsidy
program funded by the United States Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) and administered in the District by
DCHA. 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(a), (o)(1) (2015); 24 C.F.R.
§ 982.1(a)(1) (2016); D.C. Code § 6-202 (2016).
Participants in the program can rent existing units on the
private market, paying a percentage of their income towards
rent, with the remaining cost paid by government subsidy. 42
U.S.C. § 1437f(o).
federal Housing Act, the Quality Housing and Work
Responsibility Act (QHWRA), and related HUD regulations
establish requirements for the program, including policies on
admission to and termination from the program. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1437f(o); 42 U.S.C. §§ 13661-64 (2015); 24
C.F.R. pt. 982 (2016). Specifically, QHWRA requires that
"[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law, an owner
of federally assisted housing shall prohibit admission to
such housing for any household that includes any individual
who is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a
State sex offender registration program." 42
U.S.C.§ 13663(a). A HUD regulation promulgated in 2001
requires local public-housing agencies (PHAs) such as DCHA to
prohibit admission to the program of households that include
a member subject to lifetime sex-offender registration. 24
C.F.R. § 982.553(a)(2)(i) (2016). In 2013, DCHA
promulgated 14 DCMR § 5804.1 (b), mandating termination
from the program of any family if "[a]ny member of the
household is subject to a lifetime registration requirement
under a state or District of Columbia sex offender
understand the following circumstances to be undisputed for
purposes of this appeal. In 1982, Mr. Bostic was convicted of
forcible rape in the District of Columbia. He served eighteen
years in prison and was released on parole in 2000. Under the
District's Sex Offender Registration Act, Mr. Bostic is
required to register for life as a convicted sex offender.
D.C. Code § 22-4001 et seq. (2012). Mr. Bostic
registered in 2000, and he has subsequently verified his
registration information with the Metropolitan Police
Department as required. He has complied with all of the
conditions of his parole and has not been arrested since his
after his release, Mr. Bostic applied to DCHA for housing
assistance under the program and was placed on a waiting
list. In 2008, Mr. Bostic reached the top of the waiting
list. As part of DCHA's screening of applicants, Mr.
Bostic provided a police clearance from the Metropolitan
Police Department. Because his conviction was over
twenty-five years old, it did not appear on the clearance,
which looked back only six years. DCHA did not ask Mr. Bostic
any other questions about his criminal history. Mr. Bostic
was admitted to the program and moved into an apartment.
Because 24 C.F.R. § 982.553(a)(2)(i) precludes admission
of lifetime sex-offender registrants, Mr. Bostic was admitted
to the program in violation of federal law. In 2014, DCHA
conducted an internal audit and discovered Mr. Bostic's
status as a lifetime sex-offender registrant. Relying on 14
DCMR § 5804.1 (b), DCHA recommended that Mr. Bostic be
terminated from the program.
informal hearing before DCHA, Mr. Bostic did not dispute his
status as a lifetime sex-offender registrant. Instead, he
presented evidence that he requires assistance from a home
health-aide five days a week and could not secure housing
without a subsidy because of his debilitating health
problems. In addition, Mr. Bostic argued that 14 DCMR §
5804.1 (b) was contrary to federal law. Concluding that 14
DCMR § 5804.1 (b) was mandatory and not contrary to
federal law, the Hearing ...