This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Dakota County Community Development Agency,
Filed October 12, 2004
Dakota County Community Development Authority
Nancy Schultz, 15522 Cornell Trail, Rosemount, MN 55068 (pro se relator)
Mary G. Dobbins, Mary G. Dobbins & Associates, 7400 Metro Boulevard, Suite 100, Edina, MN 55439 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Randall, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator argues that (1) respondent housing authority acted arbitrarily and capriciously in terminating her from its housing-subsidy program, (2) the housing authority violated her rights to examine her file and to present evidence, (3) the statement of the proceedings adopted by the hearing officer did not accurately reflect the proceedings, and (4) her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated when she was terminated from the program. Because the hearing officer articulated a rational connection between her findings and her decision and because we find no violation of relator’s rights, we affirm.
Relator Nancy Schultz entered the Dakota County Community Development Agency’s (CDA) federally subsidized “Section 8” housing program in October 1996. CDA administers the program under regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Schultz has a degenerative bone disease that prevents her from working. When she entered the Section 8 program, her two youngest children, Troy, who was 17 years old at the time, and Jason, who was 15, lived with her.
Continued participation in the Section 8 program requires the subsidy recipient to apply for recertification on at least an annual basis. On the recertification application, the participant must identify each member of the household and state the monthly income of each adult member of the household. If an adult member of the household claims to receive no income, he must sign a form attesting that he currently receives no income and promising to report any income to CDA within 30 days of its receipt. If there is such a reported change in income, CDA may then recalculate the amount of the subsidy to which the head of the household is entitled.
The recertification process also requires the program participant to sign a “statement of tenant responsibilities,” a form in which she promises to notify CDA within 30 days of any changes in the household composition or income. Household income is any income earned by adult members of the household. By signing the statement of tenant responsibilities, the participant acknowledges that “failure to report changes in my household size to [CDA] within 30 days of the change will result in termination of my housing assistance” and that the participant “will notify [CDA] of all changes in my household income within 30 days of the change.”
In October 2002, CDA reviewed Schultz’s file and documented numerous inconsistencies regarding the reported composition of her household. CDA notified her that all future changes in her household composition must be reported in writing within 30 days of the change. In April 2003, CDA obtained information regarding Jason’s and Troy’s incomes from the Minnesota Department of Economic Security showing that, combined, they had earned more than $43,000 in the 17 quarters preceding the first quarter of 2003. Schultz’s CDA file included no record that Schultz reported any of this income. On May 2, 2003, CDA sent Schultz a letter informing her that her participation in the Section 8 program would be terminated effective June 30, 2003, because she had “failed to report income of household members as required for the Section 8 program.”
Schultz exercised her right to an informal hearing, which was held on May 21, 2003. Schultz was represented by counsel. CDA asserted that not only had Schultz failed to report changes in her household income, but also she had failed to report changes in the composition of her household, as is required by CDA reporting requirements and HUD regulations. CDA further claimed that Schultz was aware of the reporting requirements because in the past she had reported decreases in household income that benefited her by resulting in an increase in her monthly housing subsidy. CDA alleged that Schultz had intentionally misreported information to maximize the amount of her housing subsidy and to remain eligible for a subsidy for a two-bedroom apartment.
Schultz claimed that her understanding was that she was not required to report changes in household income unless the change resulted in an increase in monthly household income of at least $2,000. Schultz also claimed that Troy moved in and out of her apartment frequently, staying with her only when he was between jobs, and that Troy did not contribute any of his income to the household. Jason, who appeared at the hearing, claimed that he had notified CDA of income that he received while working at a job in 2000 but did not recall if he had notified CDA about other changes in his income.
The hearing officer concluded that CDA had “acted appropriately” in terminating Schultz from the Section 8 program. The officer concluded that CDA had “successfully demonstrate[d] that Ms. Schultz and/or other adult members of her household failed on more than one occasion to report changes in household composition and/or household income.” The officer also concluded that CDA had shown that Schultz was aware of CDA reporting requirements because on more than one occasion she did report household changes that resulted in a change in CDA records.
Schultz filed this pro se appeal and requested that a transcript of the hearing be made. But CDA informed her that the audiotape recording of the hearing was of such poor quality that transcription was impossible. This court then ordered the parties to prepare a statement of the proceedings under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.03. On February 3, 2004, the hearing officer adopted the statement of the proceedings submitted by CDA.
Schultz argues that the hearing officer’s decision was arbitrary and capricious because the officer did not consider all of the relevant circumstances surrounding her failure to report changes in her household composition and income and because the decision was not supported by substantial evidence. An agency’s quasi-judicial decision must be supported by substantial evidence and not be arbitrary and capricious. Carter v. Olmsted County Hous. & Redevelopment Auth., 574 N.W.2d 725, 729 (Minn. App. 1998). “[T]he agency’s conclusions are not arbitrary and capricious so long as a ‘rational connection between the facts found and the choice made’ has been articulated.” In re Excess Surplus Status of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minn., 624 N.W.2d 264, 277 (Minn. 2001). An agency decision-maker must consider all important aspects of the case. White v. Minn. Dep’t of Natural Res., 567 N.W.2d 724, 730 (Minn. App. 1997). Decisions of administrative agencies enjoy a presumption of correctness and a reviewing court defers to an agency’s conclusions regarding conflicts in testimony, the weight given to expert testimony, and the inferences to be drawn from testimony. In re Excess Surplus Status of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minn., 624 N.W.2d at 278.
Schultz does not contest that she failed to report changes in household composition and income. She instead offers various explanations for such failures, arguing that that she was not required to report the changes because they would not have affected her housing subsidy or because they were temporary. But the statements of tenant responsibilities signed annually by Schultz required her to report all changes in household composition and income, and, under federal regulations, Schultz was required to comply with the reporting requirements developed by CDA. See 24 C.F.R. § 982.551(b)(1) (2003) (stating that a Section 8 participant “must supply any information that the [local housing authority] determines is necessary in the administration of the program”); 24 C.F.R. §982.551(b)(2) (2003) (stating that a Section 8 participant “must supply any information requested by the [local housing authority] for use in a regularly scheduled reexamination or interim reexamination of family income and composition in accordance with HUD requirements”). Failure to comply with the local housing authority’s reporting requirements may serve as a ground for termination from the program. 24 C.F.R. § 982.552(c)(1)(i) (2003).
The record includes substantial evidence showing that Schultz failed to report changes in household composition and income as required by CDA and HUD; such failure is a ground for termination from the program. Therefore, the hearing officer articulated a rational connection between the facts and the decision that termination was warranted, and the decision was not arbitrary and capricious.
Schultz argues that CDA violated her rights by not allowing her to see documents in her CDA file before the hearing. Under federal regulations, before a hearing on a participant’s termination from the Section 8 housing program, the participant “must be given the opportunity to examine . . . any [local housing authority] documents that are directly relevant to the hearing . . . If the [housing authority] does not make the document available for examination on request of the [participant], the [housing authority] may not rely on the document at the hearing.” 24 C.F.R. § 982.555(e)(2)(i) (2003). The right to examine documents was communicated to Schultz in an attachment to the May 2003 letter notifying her that she was being terminated from the housing program. Schultz does not claim, and the record does not show, that she requested to see any documents in her CDA file before the hearing. Because Schultz did not request to see the contents of her CDA file before the hearing, her rights were not violated when she did not do so.
Schultz also argues that she offered to produce evidence to rebut the evidence presented by CDA but was not given the opportunity to do so. Under the relevant federal regulation, at a hearing on a person’s termination from a Section 8 housing program, the person “must be given the opportunity to present evidence, and may question any witnesses.” 24 C.F.R. § 982.555(e)(5) (2003). The attachment to CDA’s May 2003 letter also informed Schultz of her right to present evidence. All of the exhibits presented by CDA at the hearing, with the exception of a list chronicling Schultz’s failures to comply with reporting requirements, were documents from Schultz’s CDA file. Had Schultz taken advantage of her opportunity to view the file before the hearing, she could have prepared evidence to rebut CDA’s exhibits. Because Schultz was notified of her rights more than two weeks before the hearing but opted not to exercise them, her argument that she was not given the time or opportunity to present rebuttal evidence is without merit.
Schultz argues that the statement of the proceedings adopted by the hearing officer was not agreed on by the parties, as she claims is required by Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.03 (2003). She further claims that because the statement ignores her arguments it does not accurately represent the proceedings and is evidence that the hearing officer did not consider Schultz’s arguments.
It is not necessary, as Schultz contends, that the parties agree to the contents of a statement of the proceedings. Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.03 provides that if a transcript is unavailable, the appellant may prepare a statement reflecting what took place at the proceeding and provide a copy of the statement to the opposing party and to the district court or administrative agency that presided at the proceeding; the opposing party may then make proposed amendments to the statement and submit them to appellant and the court or agency. The district court or administrative agency may then adopt one of the proposed statements submitted by the parties, or incorporate its own amendments to one of the statements and adopt the amended version. Id. The rule does not require that the parties agree on the content of the statement. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.03 cmt. (explaining that 1998 amendments were “intended to clarify that the trial court is not bound by the parties’ submissions but may modify the statement based on the court’s own recollection”).
Moreover, the record shows that the statement of the proceedings adopted by the hearing officer does not ignore the arguments presented by Schultz in the hearing and emphasized in Schultz’s proposed statement of the proceedings. Schultz has not shown that she made relevant arguments at the hearing that were not addressed in the statement of the proceedings adopted by the hearing officer, and the arguments that she claims are not reflected in the statement are not relevant to the issue of whether she failed to meet CDA’s reporting requirements. Thus, nothing in the record suggests that the statement of the proceedings adopted by the hearing officer does not accurately reflect what occurred at the hearing or that it prejudices Schultz.
Finally, Schultz argues that “she feels she has rights under the [Americans with Disabilities Act] to public housing assistance, in order to sustain her life” and that those rights were violated. But we find nothing in the Americans with Disabilities Act giving persons with disabilities preferential treatment in Section 8 housing programs or excluding disabled persons from the reporting requirements of such programs. See Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 327 (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213 (2003)). Therefore, we conclude that Schultz’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were not violated by her termination from the program.
 Under the CDA policies in effect since 1999, monthly household income increases of less than $2,000 would not result in recalculation of the participant’s subsidy. Before 1999, the threshold was $500.