Housing Complex

Should DCHA Yank Housing Vouchers for the Families of Drug Users?

The District of Columbia Housing Authority has published draft rules that would make it a lot harder for drug users–and even the families of drug users–to receive public assistance for housing. Actually, make that nearly impossible. The new regs apply to several kinds of criminal activity, but the drug use section states:

Brother's got a drug problem? No housing for you. (Lydia DePillis)

Brother's got a drug problem? No housing for you. (Lydia DePillis)

DCHA must terminate participation and assistance for a family if:

(a) The PHA determines that any member of the household has ever been convicted of drug related criminal activity for manufacture of production of methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing;

(b) Any member of the household is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state or District of Columbia sex offender program.

DCHA may terminate participation and assistance for a family if:

(a) Any household member is currently engaged in any illegal use of a drug;

(b) Any household member has engaged in any drug related criminal activity not more than three (3) years prior to the date a notice recommendation for termination for drug related criminal activity.

Under these new regulations, if your spouse uses pot, you could and your children theoretically lose your housing. In another section, the proposed rules make explicit allowance for the victims of domestic abuse: The abuser will be removed from the living situation paid for with housing vouchers, which would seem to protect innocents from being punished. What I don't understand is this: Why shouldn't drug use be treated the same way? Does a help a family to be kicked out of its housing if one member is suffering from a drug addiction? Certainly taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing drug dens–but those are supposed to be taken care of through the normal policing system. If they're not, then the police aren't doing their job. Adding the additional threat of making your family homeless may deter drug-related criminal activity, but it may also just put already-troubled families on the streets. Think of the kinds of criminal activity that generates.

Anyway, DCHA is taking comments on the proposed rules until September 3rd. Send rants either way to Hans Froelicher at

  • rt

    YESSS thank god!! This one simple rule would revolutionize public housing and provide a disincentive to drug use and dealing, making public housing less nightmarish for people who live there now.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Lydia- I think according to DC Law, if a family member is on the lease and is convicted of drug use, the family has the option of leaving the premise or kicking out the user (removing the person from the lease and "banning" them from the property). I'm not 100% but I know that DC tenant laws are pretty favorable to tenants, even/especially to those with government subsidies.

  • Ace in DC

    This is such a great rule! Is this rule already out their for other serious crimes (specifically involving guns - etc)? Make housing affordable for good citizens not criminals.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    I stand corrected. I see that this will change according to these new regulations.

  • Northwesterner

    I think this is a fantastic idea and I already wrote my councilmember about this great law. If anyone has lived near public housing and been street harassed by dealers on the corner or seen people lighting up in the alleys you know that DCHA has needed such a law like this. If someone's going to smoke crack around kids in normal families that's cause for a divorce. These people apparently need extra encouragement to rejoin society. Drug abuse is destroying the city and these people need to hit rock bottom before they recognize they need to change.

  • Rick Mangus


  • Deanwoodenizen

    Commenters, this is a PROPOSED RULE of the INDEPENDENT DC HOUSING AUTHORITY. You can cc whomever you like but it is the INDEPENDENT HOUSING AUTHORITY that will implement the final regulation. Support or disagreement or edits to the PROPOSED RULE need to be sent to the INDEPENDENT DC HOUSING AUTHORITY, hfroelic@dchousing.org

    @Lydia, it is not only the police that have a role in ridding neighborhoods of criminal activity. The police are but one part of the law enforcement process; the US Attorney's Office (in DC's case) along with the public are just as important parts in the law enforcement process. If the USAO does not have the evidence and chooses not to file charges the suspect is back out--free and clear. If the public chooses not to be a witness or provide a community impact statement, the suspect could get less time or no time and get out--free and clear. Not to mention the suspect could be out on bail until a trial and that individual is still in the publicly funded housing and could go back to participating in criminal activity. If this is the case no reprecussions sends a terrible message and is throwing good money after bad.

  • anon

    These policies shouldn't be anything new. They are simply a restatement of federal law, which they are required to follow and which has been in place for over a decade. See 42 USC 13661-13663 42 USC 1437n(f) 42 USC 1437d(l)(6). DCHA has no discretion under federal law when it comes to the admission/eviction fo families under the first two categories and DCHA is required to adopt policies ALLOWING for eviction (but not REQUIRING eviction) for the latter categories.

  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    AMEN! It's about time these rules should have been passed and enforced! I would eliminate about 85% of the drug houses in my neighborhood! It is hard as heck to get a section 8 drug house kicked out of the problem. It takes over a year at best. This could go a long way to stop the cycle of generations on public assistance. If you want to do drugs fine - just not on my tax payer dollar and if Daddy has the drug problem then he shouldnt be staying in the house with the kids anyway. No more goverment sponsored lawlessness. It will make neighborhoods safer for people who want to follow the law.

  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    I just noticed this but why did you have to pick the picture of Henson Ridge in Congress Heights? Not all the houses there are section 8. Why not a nice picture of a property in Northwest? Ward 8 doesn't have an exclusive deal on Section 8 or Section 8 drug houses.

    Just sayin'

  • Sally

    I think the comments might not be the type of bleeding heart response Lydia might have been looking for....

  • Lydia DePillis

    Hi Nikki - I just picked those as one of my stock photos of nice, generic-looking houses. Certainly no ward discrimination meant.



  • LOL

    Lydia, great story. I say yes.

  • lala

    I am kind of in the middle on this idea, I agree with most of the comments, but you also have to think about the kids what if the mother is a crack addict and she can't stop then that means her and the kids would become homeless and that is another problem we would be facing.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    lala- so would you prefer the kids living in a household with a crack-addicted mother instead? Sadly, foster care is a better solution for them until their mother can get her act together.

  • 3peas

    I hope these proposals are authorized. In addition to the previous comments, these rules will also help the families who don't know how to deal with the family member with the drug issue. What I don't want to see is innocent families on the street. Families should be able to evict the druggie, and maintain their homes. Please don't let this seemingly great idea add to the unnecessary homeless population in this city.

  • Manor

    As stated, these laws already exist at the federal level, where section 8 financing originates. Generally, they are not enforced, like many other laws in DC. Remember, well connected people make lots and lots of money off section 8'ers, and those checks come from the feds (ie they don't bounce), and thus the landlords are the last people who want offenders evicted. The landlords by and large live in nicer parts of town (with our elected officials) and don't have to deal with the violence associated with public housing.

  • Manor

    addendum to my above: I know most people in public housing are wonderful, but are victimized like the rest of us by a small minority of generally freewheeling thugs.

  • Aquarius Vann-Ghasri

    I advocate for those suffering from the disease of addiction. The District of Columbia provide federal assistance for those suffering from the disease of addiction, "what are the views of orgnaization such of the like Community Connection, SOME and Pathway to Housing";

    What are the views of the Civil Liberty Union, "whether or not a person suffering from the disease of addiction rights are being violated";

    Nor in my view was "Fight Back" law mandated was a just and fair law.

  • Jeff

    YES! I fully agree, ANY family member in a home under a voucher should be held accountable to their family and the government for that voucher. I fully support yanking the voucher for ANY criminal activity, domestic abuse, child abuse, intervention of Childrens services, I mean the rules need to be strict and enforced and the voucher program SHOULD NOT be a life long entitlement, it should be no longer than 5 years and then you are out! Thank God with the sequester funds are already being taken out of this taxpayer funded scam and waitlists are closed. The entiree program should be defunded except for the elderly or handicapped.