may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Housing and Redevelopment Authority of St. Cloud,
Filed January 21, 1997
Housing and Redevelopment Authority of St. Cloud
Gerald W. Von Korff, John J. Meuers, Rinke-Noonan, 400 First Street South, Suite 700, P.O. Box 1497, St. Cloud, MN 56302 (for Respondent)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.
Relator Steve Thigpen appeals from the informal hearing held by the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which denied his application to the Grace McDowell Apartments. We affirm.
Thigpen requested an informal hearing, guaranteed him by federal regulations. The hearing officer denied Thigpen's application, citing police reports of two assaults and one disturbance that involved Thigpen. This appeal followed.
A reviewing court may reverse or modify an agency decision if the decision is
(a) In violation of constitutional provisions; or
(b) In excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency; or
(c) Made upon unlawful procedure; or
(d) Affected by other error of law; or
(e) Unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted; or
(f) Arbitrary or capricious.
Minn. Stat. § 14.69 (1994).
The Authority is subject to federal procedural guidelines for determining eligibility of tenants. See 24 C.F.R. SSSS 880.603. Among these guidelines is the requirement that an applicant be given, on request, an informal hearing if his or her application is denied. Id.
Thigpen's application for housing was denied on April 19, 1996. The denial explained:
[t]he information that concerns us is that it is indicated that you have a history of alcohol use resulting in conduct that has in the past and will likely in the future result in adversely affecting your living environment and involvement in criminal activity including crimes of violence to persons. Specifically, recent police reports indicate assaults against others in 1994 and 1995.
Thigpen requested an informal hearing, which he received. At that hearing, Thigpen presented written references, which included references from: one of the victims of an earlier domestic assault, who vouched for his appropriateness as a tenant; Norm Petrick, a facilitator of Thigpen's domestic abuse group at the Veteran's Administration, who wrote that Thigpen's cooperative participation in the group supported his belief that "it is very unlikely he will engage in future incidents of physical abuse;" and Jay Marshall, his chemical dependency counselor at the Veteran's Administration, who indicated Thigpen's satisfaction of on-going program requirements. Thigpen asserts that these references constitute evidence of rehabilitation on his part and indicate that he is unlikely to affect his living environment adversely.
The hearing officer evidently did not agree, because she denied his housing application, writing:
[t]he specific reason for the Authority denying Mr. Thigpen's tenancy is conduct that has in the past and will likely in the future result in adversely affecting his living environment and his involvement in criminal activity including violence to persons. Specifically, recent police reports indicate assaults against others in 1994 and 1995.
She went on to list three disturbances, including two assaults by Thigpen. Thigpen argues that the denial was not legally sufficient because it did not specifically address the evidence of his rehabilitation.
The Authority is required to state reasons for its denial of an application in a denial of eligibility for public housing. 24 C.F.R. § 880.603 (b)(2). The statement of reasons for denial must be specific enough to allow that applicant to rebut at an informal hearing. Edgecomb v. Housing Auth. of Town of Vernon, 824 F. Supp. 312, 315 (D. Conn. 1993). The particular requirements regarding denial after the informal hearing are less clear, though the hearing officer's explanation is specific enough to satisfy the general federal standards.
The root of Thigpen's argument is that the hearing officer failed to discuss the evidence supporting his rehabilitation. He cites the Authority's internal policy manual, which provides:
[t]he hearing officer or panel shall prepare its written decision, including a statement of findings and conclusions; as well as the reasons or basis therefore, upon all material issues raised by the parties.
(Emphasis added.) We do not believe that this policy guideline requires the Authority to address all evidence submitted in rebuttal. Clearly, the hearing officer did not consider the evidence of rehabilitation convincing enough to outweigh a history of criminal disturbances, including domestic assault.