[Hpn] Arrest threatens home aid

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sat, 08 Dec 2007 12:47:08 -0500


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            Concord
          =20
              =20
            Arrest threatens home aid=20
          =20
            Mom cut off after police arrest her son =20
     =20


      By Annmarie Timmins
      Monitor staff
    =20
    =20
      December 08. 2007 =20

    =20
                  =20
            A single mother of three lost her Section 8 housing =
assistance after her 17-year-old son's drug possession arrest appeared =
in the Monitor's police log, according to a lawsuit filed in federal =
court this week.=20

            The Concord Housing Authority notified Kelley Nault of Oak =
Street in September that it was terminating her federal housing =
assistance Dec. 1 because of her son's August arrest. Joseph Nault III =
was charged with two counts of drug possession on Aug. 7 after the =
Concord police determined he had marijuana and Percocet, according to a =
police report. He has not yet gone to trial on the charges.=20

            The housing authority follows federal rules that permit the =
termination of housing assistance if any member of the household engages =
in illegal drug or violent activity, even if there is no arrest or =
conviction. The rule applies even if the drug activity occurs outside =
the home.=20

            But there are two problems with this case, according to =
Nault's lawyer, Michael Perez of New Hampshire Legal Assistance. He says =
the housing authority needed more evidence than a newspaper police log, =
and it had to let Kelley Nault question the arresting officer or =
challenge the other evidence before revoking her assistance.=20

            "The only evidence of disqualifying conduct . . . was 30 =
words from the Concord Monitor police log indicating that Joey had been =
arrested," Perez wrote in the lawsuit.=20

            Nault unsuccessfully appealed the decision to the housing =
authority - with the support of her landlord - and is now fighting the =
termination in court. Nault, who also has two daughters, 11 and 8, works =
full time and is recovering from years of bad health associated with =
Crohn's disease, according to the court records.=20

            She had relied on the assistance from the housing authority =
to pay her nearly $600 monthly rent, according to court records.=20

            She could not be reached for comment but remains in her home =
awaiting resolution of the case, Perez said. He added that losing the =
Section 8 housing assistance could also jeopardize Nault's plan to seek =
state assistance to buy the home she is renting.=20

            "Ms. Nault's son is accused of making a serious mistake, but =
he is not someone whose family should lose subsidized housing," Perez =
wrote in Nault's appeal to the housing authority. He declined to say how =
much assistance Nault had received.=20

            John Hoyt Jr., executive director of the Concord Housing =
Authority, defended his agency's decision to revoke Nault's assistance. =
When she first applied for federal housing assistance in 1998, she =
signed an agreement acknowledging that accusations of drug or violent =
criminal activity could cost her her housing assistance, he said.=20

            "We are using taxpayer money (to provide housing =
assistance), and we follow the federal policy of one strike and you are =
out," said Hoyt, "especially when it comes to drugs or to violent =
crime." Enforcing that policy without exception is the only way to =
create maximum deterrence, he said.=20

            The housing authority's lawyer, Brian Shaughnessy of =
Manchester, disputed Perez's claim that the authority relied only on an =
arrest log as evidence against Nault's son. Shaughnessy said Nault =
herself admitted that her son had been arrested and had drugs. Nault =
also volunteered that her son had been in a drug diversion program, =
Shaughnessy said.=20

            It's not unusual for the Concord Housing Authority to review =
police logs and newspaper arrest reports for information about people =
receiving federal housing assistance, Hoyt said. "We keep a good =
history," he said. He also said this is not the first time a news =
account has prompted action from the agency.=20

            Perez said New Hampshire Legal Assistance sees cases like =
Nault's more often than it would like. It took on the case not only to =
help Nault but also to establish a fairer review process. Perez said, at =
minimum, the agency must follow its own rules governing what sort of =
evidence determines guilt and how a client can challenge that evidence.=20

            This case began around 7 p.m. on Aug. 7 when the Concord =
police arrested Joseph Nault III on West Street. He had just graduated =
from high school but is described in court records as immature and =
suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive =
compulsive disorder. This was his first drug arrest, according to court =
records.=20

            At a preliminary appeal hearing in October, Nault admitted =
her son had been arrested. Shaughnessy said Nault also admitted that her =
son had the drugs as charged. Perez, however, says she did not.=20

            The housing authority rejected the appeal and told Nault her =
assistance would end as of December. She appealed again and asked for a =
formal hearing. At that hearing, Nault's lawyer raised two issues. Perez =
asked the housing authority to use its discretion and give Nault a =
second chance. Perez also argued that the housing authority had not =
produced the required "preponderance of evidence" that Joseph Nault had =
possessed drugs. An arrest, Perez said, requires only probable cause, a =
lower threshold.=20

            The housing authority rejected the request for leniency =
because authority staff believe the only way to enforce the housing =
regulations is to enforce them uniformly, Shaughnessy said. If the =
authority begins making exceptions, it will be accused of favoritism or =
discrimination, he said.=20

            Perez's disagreements over the evidence also failed to =
persuade the housing authority.=20

            In late October, it rejected the second appeal.=20

            Perez asked the housing authority to reconsider in November, =
and when it declined, he filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in =
Concord on Dec. 3. He has asked the court to prohibit the housing =
authority from terminating Nault's housing assistance and to make up any =
unpaid rent.=20

            Shaughnessy has not had time to respond to the lawsuit but =
said this week that he intends to propose a compromise that would allow =
Nault to continue receiving her housing assistance while the case works =
its way through the federal court.=20

            Nault's landlord declined to comment, other than to say =
Nault had been a great tenant. The landlord, Mary Caldwell of Concord, =
has asked the housing authority to continue Nault's assistance. Joseph =
Nault still lives with his mother but is now working at McDonald's and =
contributing $50 a week toward rent, according to court records. He =
hopes to attend Hesser College.=20
          =20
    =20


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            <DIV>Concord<BR></DIV></TD></TR>
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          <TD>&nbsp; </TD></TR>
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          <TD class=3Dhed2>
            <DIV>Arrest threatens home aid </DIV>
            <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV></TD></TR>
        <TR>
          <TD class=3Dhed4>Mom cut off after police arrest her son=20
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      <DIV class=3DByline>By Annmarie Timmins<BR>Monitor =
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    <TD vAlign=3Dtop width=3D"100%" colSpan=3D2><!--Note: PublishedDate =
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      class=3Ddateforstories>December 08. 2007&nbsp;</SPAN> =
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<NOSCRIPT>&nbsp;</NOSCRIPT></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><SPAN=20
            class=3Dstorybodytext>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>A single mother of three lost her =
Section 8=20
            housing assistance after her 17-year-old son's drug =
possession=20
            arrest appeared in the Monitor's police log, according to a =
lawsuit=20
            filed in federal court this week. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>The Concord Housing Authority =
notified Kelley=20
            Nault of Oak Street in September that it was terminating her =
federal=20
            housing assistance Dec. 1 because of her son's August =
arrest. Joseph=20
            Nault III was charged with two counts of drug possession on =
Aug. 7=20
            after the Concord police determined he had marijuana and =
Percocet,=20
            according to a police report. He has not yet gone to trial =
on the=20
            charges. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>The housing authority follows =
federal rules=20
            that permit the termination of housing assistance if any =
member of=20
            the household engages in illegal drug or violent activity, =
even if=20
            there is no arrest or conviction. The rule applies even if =
the drug=20
            activity occurs outside the home. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>But there are two problems with =
this case,=20
            according to Nault's lawyer, Michael Perez of New Hampshire =
Legal=20
            Assistance. He says the housing authority needed more =
evidence than=20
            a newspaper police log, and it had to let Kelley Nault =
question the=20
            arresting officer or challenge the other evidence before =
revoking=20
            her assistance. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>"The only evidence of disqualifying =
conduct .=20
            . . was 30 words from the Concord Monitor police log =
indicating that=20
            Joey had been arrested," Perez wrote in the lawsuit. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>Nault unsuccessfully appealed the =
decision to=20
            the housing authority - with the support of her landlord - =
and is=20
            now fighting the termination in court. Nault, who also has =
two=20
            daughters, 11 and 8, works full time and is recovering from =
years of=20
            bad health associated with Crohn's disease, according to the =
court=20
            records. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>She had relied on the assistance =
from the=20
            housing authority to pay her nearly $600 monthly rent, =
according to=20
            court records. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>She could not be reached for =
comment but=20
            remains in her home awaiting resolution of the case, Perez =
said. He=20
            added that losing the Section 8 housing assistance could =
also=20
            jeopardize Nault's plan to seek state assistance to buy the =
home she=20
            is renting. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>"Ms. Nault's son is accused of =
making a=20
            serious mistake, but he is not someone whose family should =
lose=20
            subsidized housing," Perez wrote in Nault's appeal to the =
housing=20
            authority. He declined to say how much assistance Nault had=20
            received. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>John Hoyt Jr., executive director =
of the=20
            Concord Housing Authority, defended his agency's decision to =
revoke=20
            Nault's assistance. When she first applied for federal =
housing=20
            assistance in 1998, she signed an agreement acknowledging =
that=20
            accusations of drug or violent criminal activity could cost =
her her=20
            housing assistance, he said. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>"We are using taxpayer money (to =
provide=20
            housing assistance), and we follow the federal policy of one =
strike=20
            and you are out," said Hoyt, "especially when it comes to =
drugs or=20
            to violent crime." Enforcing that policy without exception =
is the=20
            only way to create maximum deterrence, he said. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>The housing authority's lawyer, =
Brian=20
            Shaughnessy of Manchester, disputed Perez's claim that the =
authority=20
            relied only on an arrest log as evidence against Nault's =
son.=20
            Shaughnessy said Nault herself admitted that her son had =
been=20
            arrested and had drugs. Nault also volunteered that her son =
had been=20
            in a drug diversion program, Shaughnessy said. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>It's not unusual for the Concord =
Housing=20
            Authority to review police logs and newspaper arrest reports =
for=20
            information about people receiving federal housing =
assistance, Hoyt=20
            said. "We keep a good history," he said. He also said this =
is not=20
            the first time a news account has prompted action from the =
agency.=20
            </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>Perez said New Hampshire Legal =
Assistance=20
            sees cases like Nault's more often than it would like. It =
took on=20
            the case not only to help Nault but also to establish a =
fairer=20
            review process. Perez said, at minimum, the agency must =
follow its=20
            own rules governing what sort of evidence determines guilt =
and how a=20
            client can challenge that evidence. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>This case began around 7 p.m. on =
Aug. 7 when=20
            the Concord police arrested Joseph Nault III on West Street. =
He had=20
            just graduated from high school but is described in court =
records as=20
            immature and suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity =
disorder=20
            and obsessive compulsive disorder. This was his first drug =
arrest,=20
            according to court records. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>At a preliminary appeal hearing in =
October,=20
            Nault admitted her son had been arrested. Shaughnessy said =
Nault=20
            also admitted that her son had the drugs as charged. Perez, =
however,=20
            says she did not. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>The housing authority rejected the =
appeal and=20
            told Nault her assistance would end as of December. She =
appealed=20
            again and asked for a formal hearing. At that hearing, =
Nault's=20
            lawyer raised two issues. Perez asked the housing authority =
to use=20
            its discretion and give Nault a second chance. Perez also =
argued=20
            that the housing authority had not produced the required=20
            "preponderance of evidence" that Joseph Nault had possessed =
drugs.=20
            An arrest, Perez said, requires only probable cause, a lower =

            threshold. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>The housing authority rejected the =
request=20
            for leniency because authority staff believe the only way to =
enforce=20
            the housing regulations is to enforce them uniformly, =
Shaughnessy=20
            said. If the authority begins making exceptions, it will be =
accused=20
            of favoritism or discrimination, he said. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>Perez's disagreements over the =
evidence also=20
            failed to persuade the housing authority. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>In late October, it rejected the =
second=20
            appeal. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>Perez asked the housing authority =
to=20
            reconsider in November, and when it declined, he filed a =
lawsuit in=20
            U.S. District Court in Concord on Dec. 3. He has asked the =
court to=20
            prohibit the housing authority from terminating Nault's =
housing=20
            assistance and to make up any unpaid rent. </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>Shaughnessy has not had time to =
respond to=20
            the lawsuit but said this week that he intends to propose a=20
            compromise that would allow Nault to continue receiving her =
housing=20
            assistance while the case works its way through the federal =
court.=20
            </P>
            <P class=3Dstorybodytext>Nault's landlord declined to =
comment, other=20
            than to say Nault had been a great tenant. The landlord, =
Mary=20
            Caldwell of Concord, has asked the housing authority to =
continue=20
            Nault's assistance. Joseph Nault still lives with his mother =
but is=20
            now working at McDonald's and contributing $50 a week toward =
rent,=20
            according to court records. He hopes to attend Hesser =
College.=20
            =
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