Reilly v. Marin Housing Authority

Justice Scale

Reilly v. Marin Housing Authority is a very important case that was heard by the Supreme Court of California last week. The case centers on whether or not In-Home Support Services (IHSS) payments to a family member who lives with and provides care for a person with a developmental disability can be counted as income when calculating rent for the federal housing choice voucher (also known as Section 8 housing).  Housing Authorities provide rental subsidies to people who are eligible, and they determine eligibility based on income counting rules set out in the U.S Department of Housing and Development (HUD) Regulations. Many types of payments are excluded from being counted as income, including what is known as the Developmental Disability Income Exemption. The DD Income Exemption excludes, for the purpose of calculating a housing voucher and rent, the “amount paid by a State agency to a family with a developmentally disabled family member living at home to offset the cost of services and equipment needed to keep the developmentally disabled family member at home.”

The reason this case is so important is because for families who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program the portion of the rent paid by the family depends in the family’s annual income. If the IHSS payment is included as income, then the amount of rent subsidized decreases and the families rent increases significantly.

Reilly v. MHA made its way to the CA Supreme Court because the lower courts interpreted the exemption very narrowly to, among other things, find that the exemption created inequity and that the actual definition of “cost” and “offset” were not applicable to family care because family care was in a sense “free” in that there was no “out of pocket” costs associated. In this particular case, Ms. Reilly is single mother who provides 24/7 care for her severely disabled daughter and not only relies on the IHSS payment but also the set amount of subsidized housing and rent based on the exemption as she would not be able to support the household if there was a reduction in the subsidy based on counting the IHSS payment as income. Currently, there is inconsistency throughout the state as some local housing authorities exclude the payment as income while others do not. We will anxiously await the Court’s opinion on this very important issue and share it with you hopefully by the end of the summer. For more information on this important case see Reilly v. Marin Housing Authority (S249593)

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