Public housing tenants and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA) reached a historic settlement in the federal class action suit filed last year to challenge the failure of the CRHA to provide adequate electric utility allowances to residents. CRHA’s failure resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of overcharges to low-income Charlottesville residents. The Legal Aid Justice Center is representing tenants, former tenants and the Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) in the class action filed in federal court in Charlottesville.
The court approved the settlement on February 19, 2014. Checks will be mailed out to class members at the end of March, 2014. The settlement will distribute $95,400 among tenants who paid utilities from June 7, 2007, through May 31, 2013. An additional $6,600 will be distributed to tenants whose utility charges were below their annual utility allowance. Current public housing tenants will also receive a credit on their account of $15 per month for 36 months and then $5 per month for an additional 24 months. CRHA conducted a new utility allowance study. Since June 1, the new study has been used to calculate tenant utility surcharges, which now include higher utility allowances. CRHA has also adopted a policy allowing elderly and disabled tenants to seek relief from utility surcharges for special needs. Between the cash back to tenants, future credits and new higher allowances, Legal Aid estimates the proposed settlement could be worth as much as $500,000 in relief and cash to tenants.
If you think you may be a member of this class and you would like additional information, or you no longer reside in a CRHA property and would like to provide us with your updated address so that you can receive a settlement check if you are entitled to one, please contact Brenda Castañeda at 434-529-1849.