The Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for investigating potential violations of Section 901. HUD, however, maintains jurisdiction over any violations of Section 818. The 1990 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DOJ and HUD outlines how such complaints should be processed. As per the MOU, FHEO Regional Offices refer all potential Section 901 complaints directly to DOJ. Further, HUD holds its investigation of the complaint in abeyance until DOJ determines whether criminal prosecution is warranted. In 1998, the MOU was modified to provide for closer cooperation and coordination between the two agencies. The modification provides that DOJ, upon receipt of a referral, will notify HUD whether an investigation of the referral has already been initiated, and if no such investigation is underway, notify HUD within two (2) weeks whether or not it will conduct a criminal investigation of the referral. DOJ will also inform HUD of the closing of a criminal investigation of a complaint, or the completion of a criminal prosecution, whether successful or not. Pending notification that DOJ will not initiate an investigation or of the closing or completion of an investigation or prosecution, HUD will hold in abeyance any contact with any of the parties involved or the initiation of any investigation. In situations where some contact is necessary to perfect the filing of a complaint, such contact shall be by telephone and shall be conducted by staff at FHEO Headquarters.
The EOS is often responsible for making an initial assessment as to whether the allegations in a Title VIII complaint constitute a violation of Section 901. Such an assessment should include, but need not be limited to, consideration of the following factors:
1. The degree of intentional violent conduct involved or threatened (e.g., evidence of firearms and other instruments of potentially deadly force, including fire);
2. The intensity or the persistence of the alleged conduct (e.g., evidence of police reports of previous incidents, discounted warnings to housing providers, evidence of escalation of numbers of persons involved, recurring incidents and heightened levels of violence);
3. The impact of the alleged activity upon the aggrieved person’s ability to use and enjoy the property (e.g., physical, psychological and financial impact, including possibility of loss of the dwelling due to damage, destruction or forced abandonment of the residence, including “constructive eviction” tactics); and
4. The apparent ability of the respondent to engage in the behavior.
1. Intake Procedures for Processing Section 901 Complaints
1. Previously filed complaints. If the aggrieved person’s information relates to a complaint that was previously filed, the EOS should alert the Intake supervisor to the situation. Discuss with the supervisor whether circumstances warrant the filing of a new complaint or amendment of the previous complaint. Ascertain whether the previous complaint is still open, or has been conciliated, withdrawn or resolved through a determination. If the previous complaint has not yet been assigned for investigation, discuss with the supervisor whether the matter warrants referral to DOJ.
2. New complaints. Upon receipt of a new complaint that appears to allege a violation of Section 901, the EOS should take the following actions:
During DOJ’s review of a 901-complaint referral or criminal investigation, HUD will hold in abeyance the issuance of any notice letters (ten (10) day notice – 100-day notice) to either the complainant or respondent.
In the event that DOJ fails to notify HUD of the status of a complaint referred under Section 901, FHEO Regional Office supervisory staff may initiate contact with DOJ to ascertain the status of the referral.
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