administrative law, public housing, due process, rent increase, New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority


In June 1971, the chairman of the New Rochelle Housing Authority notified all tenants of a new $2.00 per room per month service charge and tenants instituted an action under section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. The tenants asked the court to declare the charge invalid and enjoin the increase unless the tenants were first accorded a hearing. The US District Court for SDNY granted tenants summary judgment holding they had a due process right to notice and a hearing. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit modified this holding they had certain due process rights, their rights in these circumstances can be adequately protected without a formal adversary hearing. The Supreme Court has held that 'consideration of what procedures due process may require under any given set of circumstances must begin with a determination of the precise nature of the government function involved as well as of the private interest' There has been many cases illustrating the analysis process of the 'right-privilege' doctrine. The Court now utilizes a two step process requiring a determination of whether the interest sought to be protected is, under the due process clause, a property interest or a liberty interest and then weighs the importance of the interests involved. Since the acts of the landlord are the acts of the state, housing authorities are subject to due process requirements. The significance of this case lies in the fact that it is the first appellate holding mandating that public housing tenants be accorded certain due process protections before the promulgation of an across-the-board rent increase. However, even with this established there remains many unanswered questions but this is one more step on the road to granting limited due process in all areas of public and perhaps federally subsidized housing.

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