#239 It Is Not OK To Evict Granny

Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002
Subject: #239 It Is Not OK To Evict Granny


DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 239 Fri, 29 Mar 2002

It Is Not OK To Evict Granny

********************* PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE *********************

By now every daily newspaper in the United States has carried the
story about the Supreme Court deciding it is OK to throw entire
families out of public housing for the sins of one family member or
friend. And the editorials and OPEDs are starting to appear, both for
and against this decision.

Ohio’s Beacon Journal editorial ‘Scales of Justice’ said, “A 1988
federal law authorized the Department of Housing and Urban Development
to evict from public housing any tenant who violated the lease
requirement that no tenant, members of the household and guests be
involved in using, producing, selling or distributing drugs.

“HUD then developed a “one-strike-and-out” zero-tolerance policy that
permits a family to be evicted — even if the tenant had no way of
knowing that a guest or member of the household had violated the drug
policy. Also, it made no difference whether the violation occurred
within or away from the housing property.

“Harsh and inflexible, the policy has been applied in California
against such tenants as an elderly woman whose mentally disabled
daughter was caught with cocaine three blocks away from the apartment
she shared with her mother, and an elderly man whose caretaker was
caught with crack cocaine. By zero-tolerance guidelines, they were
guilty because of the behavior of others.

“This week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld without a dissenting vote
HUD’s eviction guidelines as within the language and intent of the law
as enacted by Congress….

“As with other war-on-drugs policies and legislation — for example,
forfeiture laws that target homes, automobiles and other properties
suspected to be associated with drug-related crimes — the eviction
policy offers one more example that as instruments of justice, zero-
tolerance policies are blunt, utterly unfair and indiscriminate….

“The high court’s ruling exposes the deep flaw in the law. The onus
is on Congress to rectify it by expanding the administrative
discretion of housing agencies.”

In addition to contacting your congress persons, letting the media,
and thru the media the public, know your views is critical if we hope
to turn this around. Your Letters to the Editor will help the public
see the basic injustice in this law.


It’s not what others do – it’s what YOU do


Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org if you are not
subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so
others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit.

Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to
review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or
approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing

To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm
and/or http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm#form

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is our way of gauging our impact and



Already many dozens of news items have been archived at MAP. They are
all good targets.


You may wish to write to many of the newspapers in your state. Finding
the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for your state’s
newspapers is also easy.

Go to http://www.mapinc.org/resource/email.htm Use the Location
dropdown to select your state. Check the Email Only block. If you wish
to have the list sent to you as well as shown, enter your email
address in the ‘Email to’ field. Press the Search button.


Newspaper editors expect that the LTEs you write are for them alone.
For the best results always address each email one at a time to each

Below is a list of some of the early opinion items already published.
Besides being superb targets for your Letters, they may give you some
ideas for drafting your letter:

Editorial: Zero Tolerance For Zero Tolerance
Las Vegas Sun (NV)

Editorial: Federal Housing: Laying Down The Law
Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)

OPED: New Law’s Target Too Broad Ledger-Enquirer (GA)

Editorial: Scales Of Justice
Beacon Journal, The (OH)

Column: There’s One Law For The Rich, Another For Poor
Intelligencer Journal (PA)

Editorial: Mix ‘Zero Tolerance’ Rule With Compassion
Jackson Sun News (TN)

Editorial: Little Justice In Court Decision On Evictions
Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)

Editorial: Kicking Out Grandma
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: A Win For Public Housing
Boston Herald (MA)

Editorial: Drug Law Ruling Can Help Clean Up Public Housing Northeast
Daily Journal (MS)



NOTE If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at
least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of
the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for
his/her work.

To the Editor:

Congress writes a law, and the government uses it to force families
who would otherwise be homeless to sign a contract saying that they
will all be thrown out of their public housing – if a family member,
friend, or even a visitor is alleged to be using drugs.

It does not matter if the alleged offence is blocks or miles away and
the person signing the lease had no idea that the other person was
involved with drugs.

And the Supreme Court agrees! Congress can write laws that are unfair
– that tear up American values of justice and fair play.

It is OK to evict granny and the rest of the family because one person
sneaks off and is caught doing wrong. Never mind that the person who
sinned may be being punished, or even in taxpayer supported
rehabilitation. Just put them all out on the street.

Must be that new ‘compassionate conservatism’ that I keep reading

Richard Lake
Chief Warrant Officer
U.S. Army, Retired
Escanaba, Michigan

(always provide your email and phone contacts so that editors may
verify that you sent the letter)


ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing

Writer’s Resources http://www.mapinc.org/resource/


Prepared by Richard Lake, DrugSense FOCUS Alert Specialist