Cisneros v. Alpine Ridge Group, 508 U.S. 10, 6 (1993)

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Cite as: 508 U. S. 10 (1993)

Opinion of the Court

Appeals reasoned that HUD, having contracted to increase rents automatically each year based upon a reasonable formula (the second of the two alternative approaches permitted by 8(c)(2)(A) of the Housing Act, see supra, at 12-13), could not thereafter limit those increases by means of a market survey (the first of the two statutory alternatives). "Having made its choice," the court wrote, "HUD cannot now change its mind." 848 F. 2d, at 991.

After this Court denied certiorari to review the Rainier View decision, 490 U. S. 1066 (1989), HUD made clear its intention not to adhere to that decision's interpretation of its contracts outside the Ninth Circuit. Faced with the prospect of inconsistent application of Government contracts depending solely upon geography, Congress attempted to resolve the matter through amendments to the Housing Act in late 1989. Section 801 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Reform Act (Reform Act), 103 Stat. 2057, amended 8(c)(2)(C) of the Housing Act to provide explicitly that HUD may limit automatic rent adjustments in the future through the use of independent comparability studies. In an apparent compromise, however, the same section also sought to restore to Section 8 project owners a portion of the automatic rent adjustments they had been denied through the use of comparability studies prior to the enactment of the 1989 amendments. The amendments thus offered Section 8 project owners a partial retroactive remedy for lost rent attributable to comparability studies while at the same time affirming HUD's authorization to employ such studies to cap future rent adjustments.1

1 Section 8(c)(2)(C) of the Housing Act, as amended by 801 of the Reform Act, now provides: "(C) Adjustments in the maximum rents under subparagraphs (A) and (B) shall not result in material differences between the rents charged for assisted units and unassisted units of similar quality, type, and age in the same market area, as determined by the Secretary. In implementing the limitation established under the preceding sentence, the Secretary shall establish regulations for conducting comparability


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