Serious issues evident in the housing authority’s procedures for debt collection


Robert S. says he received the paperwork below from the Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb (HACD) last month. It’s a repayment agreement for money HACD is claiming he owes them. Redaction is mine.


Mr. S told me he can’t sign the agreement because it’s a lie — that he doesn’t owe HACD the money they are demanding. He says he has not been approved for cash assistance and has not received cash assistance. Also, he says this claim by the HACD caseworker suddenly came up when he attempted to transfer his housing choice voucher to a housing authority in another county.

I asked if HACD shared any information about an appeals process for the dispute. He said no. There is only a threat involved (which you can see in bold type near the end of the document) and that’s the threat of referral to the state’s attorney’s office for prosecution if he doesn’t pay up. Mr. S says he believes the use of the state’s attorney’s office in this way is a violation of FTC’s rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibit using false or misleading representation as a scare tactic.

Mr. S says he has attempted to contact the state’s attorney’s office himself and has received no response. This tracks with statements by DeKalb County officials, during a recent public meeting, that the county is responsible only for appointing members of the HACD board and nothing else.* If so, the state’s attorney wouldn’t even have jurisdiction, in which case right there’s that piece of misleading information the FTC frowns upon.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking about the veteran who was similarly surprised last summer with an HACD claim of owed money and disputed it, and I wonder what happened. I hope they didn’t end up homeless.


The caseworker for both of these families, by the way, is Kim Rodr, whose position lies high enough on the HACD organizational chart that she might be vying for the executive director’s position, which comes open next month. Behavior of management staff is one reason I’m recommending HACD make this hire from outside the organization.

Though I’ve redacted his last name here, Mr. S says he is willing to talk to anyone who would like to speak to him about this. If that’s you, hit the Contact Page and get in touch with me in any of the ways listed there.

*Not that it would change the outcome in this particular situation, but City Barbs believes the county can also remove HACD board members because the housing authority statute says so.