Cisneros v. Alpine Ridge Group, 508 U.S. 10, 3 (1993)

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Opinion of the Court

Justice White delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented in this case is whether 801 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Reform Act of 1989, 103 Stat. 2057, violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment by abrogating respondents' contract rights to certain rental subsidies.



In 1974, Congress amended the United States Housing Act of 1937 (Housing Act) to create what is known as the Section 8 housing program. Through the Section 8 program, Congress hoped to "ai[d] low-income families in obtaining a decent place to live," 42 U. S. C. 1437f(a) (1988 ed., Supp. III), by subsidizing private landlords who would rent to low-income tenants. Under the program, tenants make rental payments based on their income and ability to pay; the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) then makes "assistance payments" to the private landlords in an amount calculated to make up the difference between the tenant's contribution and a "contract rent" agreed upon by the landlord and HUD. As required by the statute, this contract rent is, in turn, to be based upon "the fair market rental" value of the dwelling, allowing for some modest increase over market rates to account for the additional expense of participating in the Section 8 program. See 1437f(c)(1).

The statute, as originally enacted, further provided that monthly rents for Section 8 housing would be adjusted at least annually as follows:

"(A) The assistance contract shall provide for adjustment annually or more frequently in the maximum monthly rents for units covered by the contract to reflect changes in the fair market rentals established in the housing area for similar types and sizes of dwelling

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