Pro Bono News

Public Housing Tenants Reach Settlement with RRHA (VA)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Public Housing Tenants Reach Settlement with RRHA

"Yesterday, U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr., of the Eastern District of Virginia Federal Court, approved a class action settlement between Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and a group of tenants, valued at more than two and a half million dollars. The settlement and final order resolved a federal class action lawsuit challenging RRHA’s failure to properly set and implement tenant utility allowances.  A fairness hearing was held on July 10, 2018, and Judge Gibney signed the order shortly thereafter. 

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, $1,182,984.76 will be distributed among current and former Richmond public housing tenants who were subjected to RRHA’s utility surcharges from November 1, 2012, through October 31, 2016.  An additional $112,876.10 will be returned to tenants through implementation of new utility allowances. The new allowances will result in reduced charges to tenants of approximately $1.3 million over three years, thus bringing the total amount of cash and other relief for tenants to approximately $2.6 million.

The class action lawsuit, filed in February 2017, alleged that RRHA’s failure to properly set, implement, and charge electric utility allowances, resulted in unlawful excessive charges to current and former public housing tenants.  Federal law requires that public housing tenants not be charged more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. A class of plaintiffs, represented by lawyers at Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), and Thomas D. Domonoske of Consumer Litigation Associates, contended that these excessive charges increased tenants’ share of their housing costs, and caused tenants to pay more than allowed in violation of federal law, state law, and tenants’ leases..."

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