Vancouver Housing Authority Important Announcements

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April 28, 2016.  VHA has filed with the Court its Certification that it has fully complied with the monetary relief provisions contained in the Settlement Agreement.  For a copy, click here.  If you have not received your settlement check, of if you have other questions about this settlement, please contact Class Counsel at 1-800-260-6260, extension 153. 

February 5, 2016.  VHA provided Class Counsel with a spreadsheet showing which Class Members have been mailed Settlement checks, which checks have cleared, and the number of Class Members whose checks have not been issued because their notices were returned as undeliverable and VHA has yet to find a current address for these Class Members.  VHA has issued some 534 checks to Class Members.  Of these, 407 have cleared; 147 have yet to clear.  VHA reports that to date, there are approximately 15 Class Members whose checks have not been issued because of undeliverable notices.  Class Counsel is working with VHA to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to locate Class Members entitled to a Settlement Share.  If you believe that you are a member of the Damages Class and have not gotten your Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment or your Settlement Check, you should contact Class Counsel.  You can call Columbia Legal Services (Class Counsel) toll-free at 1-800-260-6260, ext. 153 or email them at vha.class-settlement@columbialegal.org
 

January 29, 2016.  VHA filed its first Annual Compliance Report certifying that VHA is in compliance with the non-monetary relief ordered in Paragraphs 30-36 of the Final Order and Judgment Approving Class Settlement.  This relief is summarized in the court approved Notice of Final Settlement which is posted on VHA’s website in English by clicking here.  It is also available in Español, and Русский.  This Notice was mailed to those former, Public Housing tenants who continue to reside in VHA subsidized housing covered by the Settlement Agreement.  You can view the Report on VHA’s website by clicking here and find it on this website here.

As part of this Report, VHA certified to Class Counsel that they had reviewed their utility allowances and adjusted them as required under HUD regulations.  These revisions were approved by the VHA Board of Commissioners on November 19, 2015, and are effective on February 1, 2016.  The revised utility allowance schedule is available on VHA’s website by clicking here.

At this time, VHA has reported that it has converted all its former Public Housing to project-based rental assistance and that it does not currently have any Public Housing units or Public Housing utility allowance schedules governed by the Settlement Agreement.  To see a list of the “Covered Housing units” that are still governed by the Settlement Agreement, click here.


January 27, 2016.  Class Counsel agreed to extend the date for the Vancouver Housing Authority (“VHA”) to file its Certification of Compliance with the monetary relief portions of the settlement agreement. We agreed to this because there are still a number of Class Members who cannot be found despite VHA’s diligent efforts to locate class members and distribute settlement payments,  On February 1, 2016, Judge Leighton agreed to extend VHA’s  deadline by ninety (90) days - until April 27, 2016.  The Court ordered VHA to provide Class Counsel with a spreadsheet showing which Class Members have yet to be found or to have cashed their settlement check by February 5, 2016.  This Order can be viewed here.

 

VHA Mails Settlement Checks to Members of Damages Class

November 24, 2015.  The Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) has informed Class Counsel that it mailed out Settlement Checks to most members of the Damages Class on Thursday, November 19, 2015.  There are some Class Members whose Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment were returned as undeliverable.  VHA is required to take various steps under the Settlement Agreement to find a current address for each such Class Member.  VHA will not disburse Settlement Checks until these Class Members can be located.  All funds remaining in the Settlement Fund because VHA has not been able to find a Damages Class member or because a Class Member does not negotiate their check shall be considered abandoned property belonging to such Class Members.  These funds shall be handled in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 63.29 RCW, the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.

                If you received a Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment, but have not received your check you should contact the Vancouver Housing Authority at (360) 993-9526 to make sure they have your current mailing address.  If you have questions or need further assistance in getting your Settlement Check, you can call Columbia Legal Services (Class Counsel) toll-free at 1-800-260-6260, ext. 153, email them at vha.class-settlement@columbialegal.org  or visit their website at www.columbialegal.org/vha-class-settlement.


Class Members May Have to Report the Settlement Check
to Other Agencies Giving Them Needs-Based Public Benefits

Miembros de la Clase Posiblemente Tendrán que Reportar el Cheque del Acuerdo
A Otras Agencias que les Otorgan Beneficios Públicos por Necesidad (Español)

УЧАСТНИКИ КОЛЛЕКТИВНОГО ИСКА ДОЛЖНЫ ЗАЯВИТЬ О ВЫПЛАТЕ ОРГАНИЗАЦИЯМ
ПРЕДОСТАВЛЯЮЩИМ ИМ УСЛУГИ (Русский)

 

October 13, 2015.  Do you get cash, medical, housing or other benefits, including personal care?  You may have to tell DSHS, Social Security, the VA or whoever gives you this help when you get your settlement check.  You should NOT report the check before you get it without first talking to a lawyer.

       Which programs might require that you report the settlement check?  Cash, food, or medical assistance programs from DSHS; SSI; VA Pension; some housing programs, and other programs based on financial need.

       Will this check affect my VHA rent?  No.  The Vancouver Housing Authority will not count this check as income.  Getting this check will not make your VHA rent go up.  VHA is not going to report this check as income to the IRS.  VHA agrees that your check should be best characterized as a refund of rent that you should not have to pay.

       Will this check reduce my other benefits?  This will depend on what other benefits you get.  The rules vary by program.

       Where can I get more information? 

  • Click here to review a chart prepared by Columbia Legal Services.  (Click here for a .pdf version.) 
     
  • Read your award letter from the agency giving you other public benefits.  The letter may tell you what, when and how you need to report.
     
  • If you have questions, call the agency helping you.
     
  • Talk to a lawyer.

 

       Where can I get legal advice?  You may get free legal advice by calling the Northwest Justice Project CLEAR Hotline toll-free at 1-888-201-1014 weekdays between 9:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon or going online at http://nwjustice.org/clear-online. 

 

September 30, 2015.  The Vancouver Housing Authority is mailing two notices today.  The first will go to members of the Damages Class.  The second will go to Class Members who still live in housing units that are part of the Settlement.

Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment.  This notice will tell members of the Damages Class whether they will get a Settlement Payment. It will also advise them of their right to appeal if they wish to contest the calculation of their Settlement Share or any debts that VHA plans to deduct from their Settlement Share.  To see a copy of the form needed to appeal, with instructions, click here.

Notice of Final Settlement.  This notice is being mailed to Class Members who still live in VHA housing units that are part of the settlement.  It will explain the most important terms of the settlement.  You can see a list of the housing units ("Covered Housing") that are a part of the settlement by clicking here.

Click here to see the Notice of Final Settlement.  (Español)  (Русский)
Click here to see the Final Order and Judgment.
Click here to see the full Settlement Agreement.

Important Next Steps and Deadlines

Date Next Step or Deadline
October 30, 2015 Deadline to submit Appeal Form to VHA if Class Member wishes to contest the calculation of their Settlement Payment as allowed by Settlement Agreement.
November 1, 2015 to November 30, 2015 VHA will mail Settlement checks, except where Class Member submits an appeal.
January 31, 2016 VHA must file first Annual Compliance Report.

 

August 5, 2015.  Although the Court approved the Settlement Agreement on July 31, 2015, the Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) is not required to distribute Settlement Payments until October or as late as November 2015.   The Settlement Agreement will not take effect until a thirty day period for appealing the Final Order and Judgment has expired and the Order is final.  VHA will then have 30 days to mail notices to members of the two Settlement Classes informing them of the settlement.  VHA will be mailing a Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment to all members of the Damages Class explaining whether they will or will not be receiving a Settlement Payment.  VHA will also be mailing a Notice of Final Settlement to all members of the Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Class.  VHA cannot distribute Settlement Payments until members of the Damages Class have a 30 day period of time to appeal the calculation of their Settlement Payment, if any as provided in the Settlement Agreement.  VHA must then mail settlement checks within 60 days of the mailing of the Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment, except where a Class Members appeals the calculation of their Settlement Payment.  A copy of the Settlement Agreement is available by clicking here.

The table below sets forth key events, next steps and deadlines:
 

Date Key Event, Next Step, or Deadline
July 31, 2015   Judge Leighton enters Final Order and Judgment
August 31, 2015 Effective Date of Settlement Agreement, provided no Class Member appeals Final Order and Judgment and it is final
September 1, 2015 or as late as September 30, 2015 VHA to Mail Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment and Notice of Final Settlement to Members of the two Settlement Classes
30 Days from Mailing of Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment Deadline for Members of Damages Class to File Appeal of the Calculation of his or her Settlement Payment, if any
60 Days from Mailing of Notice of Right to Class Action Settlement Payment Deadline for VHA to Disburse Settlement Payments to Members of the Damages Class, Except Where Class Member Appeals
September 1, 2015 to October 15, 2015 VHA to Pay Attorneys' Fees, Costs & Incentive Awards;  CLS to disburse Incentive Awards after VHA's check clears CLS Trust Account
January 31, 2016 VHA to file first Annual Compliance Report


For further information about the lawsuit or settlement, tenants should contact Columbia Legal Services by calling them toll-free at 1-800-260-6260, ext. 153, emailing them at vha.class-settlement@columbialegal.org or going to their website at: www.columbialegal.org/vha-class-settlement.
 

July 31, 2015.  Judge Ronald B. Leighton  approved a settlement between Public Housing tenants and the Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) that ends a class action lawsuit. Almost 900 tenants who lived in VHA public housing between April 1, 2004 and April 30, 2011 may be eligible for refunds. Three tenants, Annie McCullumn, Nancy Ramey, and Tami Romero, challenged VHA’s alleged failure to adjust its utility allowances when utility rates increased, which they claimed resulted in low-income Vancouver families paying more rent than allowed under federal law. Columbia Legal Services and Perkins Coie LLC represented the tenants and former tenants in this case.

The settlement allows both sides to avoid the risk and cost of further litigation, and permits tenants to be compensated without further delay. VHA will allocate $488,824.02 to a Settlement Fund. Although VHA has agreed to distribute settlement checks and comply with other terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement, VHA denies that it violated any law or that any tenants were harmed. Many tenants already received refunds from VHA in January and February of 2010 and March of 2011, and may not be eligible for further refunds.

Under federal law, Public Housing tenants should not pay more than thirty percent of their monthly income for rent and utilities. VHA must establish, annually review, and adjust its utility allowances so that energy conservative households do not spend more than the allowances for utilities. In the lawsuit, the tenants alleged that VHA failed to annually review and adjust its allowances to keep pace with rising utility rates as required by HUD regulations.

At the hearing, Judge Leighton thanked both parties for their hard work on the settlement agreement. Gregory Provenzano, one of the lawyers for the tenants and a staff attorney at Columbia Legal Services, states:  “This is a fair settlement for VHA public housing residents. Not only will some class members receive refund checks, but VHA has agreed to make changes to some of its policies and practices regarding utility allowances that will provide on-going benefits to class members.”

Roy Johnson, Executive Director of VHA, states: “VHA disagrees with the basis for plaintiffs’ lawsuit and does not believe that any of its tenants were harmed. VHA would like to move past this dispute and continue focusing its efforts and financial resources on providing critical services to low-income individuals and families in Vancouver.”

For further information about the lawsuit or settlement, tenants should contact Columbia Legal Services by calling them toll-free at 1-800-260-6260, ext. 153, emailing them at vha.class-settlement@columbialegal.org or going to their website at: www.columbialegal.org/vha-class-settlement.

About the Vancouver Housing Authority
The Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) is a public housing authority that provides affordable rental housing and housing assistance for more than 12,000 residents of Clark County, Washington. The VHA is governed by a six-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the Mayor of Vancouver, Washington.

A copy of the Final Order is available by clicking here

July 21, 2015.  As directed by the Court in its Preliminary Approval Order (available by clicking here), Class Counsel have filed Plaintiffs' Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement, a Proposed Order and Judgment, and the Declaration of Gregory D. Provenzano in Support of the Motion, with the U.S. District Court in advance of the Fairness Hearing scheduled for 1:30 PM on Friday, July 31, 2015.  In conjunction with Plaintiffs' Motion, Vancouver Housing Authority have filed two Declarations outlining their actions taken with respect to notifying Class Members.  The Motion and Declarations are available on the Court Documents link above, or by clicking here.

June 17, 2015.  Class Counsel were notified by the Vancouver Housing Authority that some of the letters sent to Class Members on May 22, 2015, contained errors.  In some cases, the letters understated the amount of the Settlement Payment; in other cases, the letters overstated the amount.  Corrected notices were sent to affected Class Members on June 17, 2015.  If Class Members have any questions about the letters, they should contact Class Counsel
 

May 22, 2015.  As ordered by the Court in its Preliminary Approval Order (available by clicking here), the Vancouver Housing Authority on Friday, May 22, 2015 mailed a standardized cover letter and Class Notice to all members of the two Settlement Classes at their last known mailing address.  If you are a member of one of the two Settlement Classes, you should receive the Class Notice in the next few days.  If you have moved, you should contact VHA at (360) 993-9526 to make sure they have your current mailing address.  

Click here to view the standardized Cover Letter      (Español) (Русский)
Click here to view the detailed Class Notice     (Español) (Русский)    

The Vancouver Housing Authority also published a Summary Notice in The Columbian Newspaper on May 20, May 21, and May 22, 2015.
         Click here to view the Summary Notice     (Español) (Русский)

This Is An Important Court Approved Notice

If English is not your primary language, the Vancouver Housing Authority will provide an interpreter and oral interpretation of this Notice at no cost to you.  Please call (360) 993-9526 and leave your name, phone number, and language you speak.  We will return your call with the help of an interpreter.

Esto es un aviso aprobado por el tribunal

Puede obtener una traducción al español por escrito de esta notificación llamando a la Autoridad de Vivienda de Vancouver o visitando nuestro sitio web en http://www.vhausa.com/uasettlement.html.  Si el inglés no es su idioma principal, la Autoridad de Vivienda de Vancouver proporcionará un intérprete y la interpretación oral de este Aviso, sin costo alguno para usted.  Por favor, llame al (360) 993-9526 y deje su nombre, número de teléfono y el idioma que habla.  Le devolveremos la llamada con la ayuda de un intérprete.

Важное уведомление, утвержденное судом

Вы можете получить русский перевод этого уведомления, позвонив в жилищное управление Ванкувера (VHA) или посетив наш сайт по адресу http://www.vhausa.com/uasettlement.html.  Если английский не является Вашим основным языком, жилищное управление Ванкувера (VHA) предоставит переводчика и устный перевод данного уведомления на безвозмездной для Вас основе. Пожалуйста, позвоните по телефону (360) 993-9526 и оставьте свое имя, номер телефона, а также язык на котором Вы говорите и мы перезвоним Вам с помощью переводчика.

Ovo je vazna sudski odobrena obavijest

Ako Engleski jezik nije Vas maternji jezik, Housing Authority grada Vancouver-a ce Vam omoguciti usluge prevodioca i usmeni prevod ove obavjesti bez Vase novcane naknade. Molimo Vas da se javite na telefonski broj (360) 993-9526 i ostavite Vase ime, broj telefona, te jezik koji govorite. Mi cemo Vas nazvati uz pomoc prevodioca.

នេះជាសេចក្តីជូនដំណឹងសំខាន់ ដែលបានអនុម័តពីតុលាការ

ប្រសិនបើភាសាអង់គ្លេស មិនមែនជាភាសាទីមួយរបស់អ្នកទេ អាជ្ញាធរផ្ទះសម្បែង Vancouver Housing Authority នឹងផ្តល់ជូនអ្នកបកប្រែភាសាម្នាក់ ហើយការបកប្រែផ្ទាល់មាត់សម្រាប់សេចក្តីជូននេះ ដោយឥតគិតថ្លៃអ្នកឡើយ។ សូមហៅទូរស័ព្ទលេខ  (360) 993-9526  ហើយទុកឈ្មោះ លេខទូរស័ព្ទរបស់អ្នក និងភាសាដែលអ្នកនិយាយ។ យើងខ្ញុំនឹងហៅទូរស័ព្ទអ្នកវិញ ដោយមានជំនួយពីអ្នកបកប្រែភាសា។

Ei Ew Auchean Esinesin Mei Kapwunguno Me Ren Kapwung

Ika pwe English esapw wesewesen foosun fonuomw, ewe Vancouver Housing Authority epwe awora emon chon chiaku me awora chiakuun ei Esinesin non foos nge kosapw mooni. Kose mwochen kopwe kokkori (360) 993-9526 iwe ka nikitatiw itomw, nampaan tengewa, me foosun fonu ka foffoos non. Sipwe eniwini ponuen omw kokko nge epwe wor chon chiaku epwe aninnis.

Đây Là Thông Báo Quan Trọng Đã Được Tòa Án Phê Duyệt

Nếu tiếng Anh không phải ngôn ngữ chính của quý vị, Cơ Quan Thẩm Quyền về Nhà Ở tại Vancouver (Vancouver Housing Authority) sẽ cung cấp thông dịch viên và giải thích Thông Báo này bằng lời miễn phí cho quý vị. Vui lòng gọi số (360) 993-9526 và để lại tên, số điện thoại của quý vị cùng ngôn ngữ mà quý vị sử dụng. Chúng tôi sẽ gọi điện lại cho quý vị với sự trợ giúp của thông dịch viên.
 


 

Plaintiffs File Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, Cost, and Incentive Payments

May 15, 2015.  As directed by the Court in its Preliminary Approval Order (available by clicking here), Plaintiffs have filed their motion for reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and incentive payments.  In conjunction with this motion, Plaintiffs have filed supporting declarations from Class Counsel and from the three Class Representatives, Annie McCullumn, Nancy Ramey, and Tami Romero.  

This motion is scheduled to be heard in conjunction with the Fairness Hearing on the Settlement Agreement at 1:30 P.M. on Friday, July 31, 2015 at the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma, Union Station Courthouse, Courtroom B, 1717 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98402.

If the Court gives final approval to the Settlement Agreement and grants Plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys’ fees, costs, and incentive payments, the Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) will pay up to, but no more than, a total of $110,000.00 in attorneys’ fees and costs, including incentive payments for the Class Representatives.  Plaintiffs are seeking approval from the Court to disburse, out of this award, a $2,000 incentive payment for Annie McCullumn, a $1,500 incentive payment for Nancy Ramey,  and a $1,500 incentive payment for Tami Romero. These payments are not part of the $488,824.02 Settlement Fund which VHA will use to disburse Settlement Payments to members of the Damages Class, provided the settlement is approved by the Court.   

Class Members who are concerned about the attorneys’ fees, costs, or incentive payments may file an objection with the Court.  Class Members or their attorneys can also file a response to the motion for attorneys’ fees, costs, and  incentive payments.  All objections and any response to the motion must be mailed to the Court, Class Counsel, and VHA Counsel and postmarked no later than July 1, 2015.  

YOU CAN GET MORE INFORMATION BY REVIEWING THE CLASS NOTICE

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THIS NOTICE.

See Questions 9, 15, 16, and 18 for the deadline and procedures for filing objections and responses to the attorneys’ fee motion.

TO VIEW THE MOTION AND SUPPORTING DECLARATIONS GO TO THE ABOVE LINK ENTITLED “COURT DOCUMENTS”
 

Columbia Legal Services Announces Dates, Times & Locations for Two Class Member Meetings

May 7, 2015.  Columbia Legal Services will be holding two meetings to discuss the proposed Settlement with Class Members. During the meeting, Class Counsel will discuss the terms of the proposed settlement and explain the deadlines and procedures to (1) opt out or exclude yourself from the settlement;  (2) object to the settlement;  and (3) to appear at or speak at the Fairness Hearing on July 31, 2015.  Class Members will have an opportunity to ask questions.  

Monday, June 8, 2015 - 11:00 AM
Peoples Church
6801 East Mill Plain Blvd
Vancouver, WA 98664
Click Here for Map

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 7:00 PM
Vancouver Community Library - Columbia Room
901 C Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
Click Here for Map
 

These meetings are intended for Class Members only.  Those in attendance will be asked to sign in and show evidence that they received a Class Notice or are on the list of Class Members as shown in Exhibit E of the Settlement Agreement.  All other individuals will be asked to leave the meeting to ensure the confidentiality of any discussions between Class Counsel and Class Members.  For more detailed information about the settlement click here.  

If you have questions about the settlement, call Columbia Legal Services toll-free at 1-800-260-6160, ext. 153 or email vha.class-settlement@columbialegal.org.  
 

Tenants and Vancouver Housing Authority Settle Class Action Lawsuit

If Court Approves Agreement, Some Tenants Will Get Refunds

April 23, 2015.  Vancouver, Washington – Public Housing tenants and the Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) have reached a tentative settlement that may end a class action lawsuit. Federal District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton entered an order on Thursday, April 23, 2015 approving the proposed settlement pending a “fairness hearing,” at which affected tenants will have an opportunity to object to the proposed settlement.  Three tenants, Annie McCullumn, Nancy Ramey, and Tami Romero, filed the lawsuit earlier this year in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma. The tenants are challenging VHA’s alleged failure to adjust its utility allowances when utility rates increased. The tenants allege that this failure resulted in almost 900 low-income Vancouver families paying more rent than allowed under federal law. Columbia Legal Services and Perkins Coie LLC are representing the tenants and former tenants in this case.

The parties entered into the settlement after participating in mediation and engaging in extensive, arms’ length negotiations. The settlement allows both sides to avoid the risk and cost of further litigation, and permits tenants to be compensated without further delay. VHA will allocate $488,824.02 to a Settlement Fund. If the settlement is approved by the federal court, VHA will be making payments to some, but not all, of its tenants who lived in its Public Housing between April 1, 2004 and April 30, 2011. Some tenants will not get refunds because VHA sent out rent refunds in January 2010, February 2010, and March 2011 in response to Columbia Legal Services bringing to VHA’s attention their arguments about alleged shortcomings in VHA’s procedures for calculating utility allowances. Although VHA has agreed to distribute settlement checks and comply with other terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement, VHA denies that it violated any law or that any tenants were harmed.  Under federal law, Public Housing tenants should not pay more than thirty percent of their monthly income for rent and utilities, such as electricity, gas, water, sewer, and garbage. VHA must establish, annually review, and adjust its utility allowances so that energy conservative households do not spend more than the allowances for utilities. In the lawsuit, the tenants allege that VHA failed to annually review and adjust it allowances to keep pace with rising utility rates as required by HUD regulations.

On April 23, 2015, Judge Leighton certified this lawsuit as a class action for settlement purposes only. The Court also appointed Columbia Legal Services as Class Counsel. It ordered that individual notice be mailed to all those tenants affected by the lawsuit. Any tenant who resided in VHA Public Housing between April 1, 2004 and April 30, 2011 or currently lives in such housing should soon receive a letter informing them of the settlement.

The Court must now decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement, after taking into consideration any written objections filed by those affected. All objections must be filed by July 1, 2015. A “fairness hearing” to determine whether the terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement are fair and reasonable will be held on July 31, 2015 at 1:30 P.M. at the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma, Union Station Courthouse, 1717 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98402. Tenants who would otherwise be eligible for a share of the Settlement Fund may opt out or exclude themselves from the proposed Settlement Agreement and not be bound by its terms. Those tenants wishing to opt out, to object to the settlement, or to speak or have their own attorney speak at the fairness hearing must notify the court in writing by July 1, 2015.

 


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