Evict an Entire Family Because a Child Misses School? No Way, Says ACLU
The ACLU of Northern California, along with other public interest and legal services organizations, won an important victory last week for families who live in public housing.
The Marin Housing Authority (MHA), which houses a low income and disproportionately minority population in the midst of one of the country’s wealthiest counties, was considering implementing a policy that would make truancy a lease violation and could potentially lead to the eviction of entire families upon MHA determining that a resident student was truant.
The policy, which threatened to impose additional burdensome procedures and penalties on MHA resident families on top of those already imposed by Education Code, would have had a disproportionate adverse impact on African American families in Marin County.
In an Oct. 10 letter to the MHA, the ACLU-NC and other groups raised these concerns and charged that the policy violated the residents’ constitutional rights and was in conflict with state law. After receiving the letter, the MHA revised its policy to address our concerns. These changes rendered the problematic policy an opt-in program, where the possibility of eviction is no longer an option, and where instead the policy is now focused on incentives and rewards offered to parents for keeping their children in school.
The County Board of Housing Commissioners’ adoption last week of the revised policy will ensure a measure of justice for all MHA residents.
Luz Gonzalez is a Legal Fellow with the ACLU of Northern California.