Using funds provided under the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, plaintiff provided housing assistance, including medical health services, case management, and other supportive services to people living with HIV/AIDS. The defendant agency, which managed dispersal of HOPWA funding in Idaho, wanted to conduct audits on plaintiff’s programs, which would include unrestricted access to their HOPWA beneficiary files. When plaintiff refused to supply access to unredacted files or files without a beneficiary waiver, defendant refused to distribute the balance of plaintiff’s HOPWA funding. Plaintiff sued claiming violations of, among other things, constitutional privacy rights, HOPWA’s confidentiality clause, and the Fair Housing Act.
Addressing the constitutional claim, the court applied the four-prong balance test outlined by the Ninth Circuit in Tucson Woman’s Clinic v. Eden, 379 F.3d 531 (9th Cir. 2004), and found that the defendant could not demand unrestricted access to unredacted files without violating the privacy rights of the beneficiaries, especially where there was less intrusive means of gathering the same information. On the HOPWA issue, however, the court found that the provision in the law requiring grantees to maintain the confidentiality of beneficiary information did not create a private right of action and could not be enforced judicially. Regarding the FHA claim, the court found that withholding HOPWA funds did not amount to discriminatory treatment or retaliation under the FHA, but could result in discriminatory impact.
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