Buchanan Litigators Convince Pennsylvania Appellate Court that Home Addresses of Recipients of Federal Housing Assistance are Constitutionally Protected from Disclosure by the Right to Informational Privacy
In its pursuit to protect its tenants’ private information, Chester Housing Authority called on Buchanan to help. Jan Budman, Shareholder in the firm’s Litigation section, and Kyle Meyer, Associate, fought through various courts and didn’t give up until they achieved success for their client.
The Authority received a Right-to-Know request to obtain addresses where tenants received federal funding available from the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8 Housing Assistance. The Authority denied the request, and it was appealed to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, which granted the appeal and ordered the Authority to disclose the HCVP recipients’ home addresses.
Believing in their clients’ position, Buchanan continued to appeal each affirming decision – through the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, the Delaware County Court of Common Please, the Commonwealth Court and ultimately petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for the opportunity to personally address the Court, seeking to determine whether HCVP recipients’ home addresses were protected by the right to privacy set forth in the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a separate case that home addresses are constitutionally protected and determined the circumstances under which such personal information can be disclosed in a Right-to-Know request. The Court set forth a balancing test to gauge whether the public interest in favor of disclosure of the home addresses is strong enough to outweigh the constitutional right to informational privacy.
The Court granted Jan and Kyle’s request to address the Court, remanded the matter back to the Commonwealth Court and Jan argued before a panel of Commonwealth Court judges, ultimately convincing them that the public interest did not outweigh the HCVP recipients’ right to informational privacy.