Settlement Reached in Suit against CRHA

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Hundreds of Charlottesville public housing residents are one step closer to getting back money they overpaid on utility bills.

Monday, a federal judge accepted a settlement in the case that started because of one woman's search for justice. The judge praised attorneys for reaching the deal, which will pay back a little more than $100,000 to people who were unfairly charged over a six-year period.

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA) agrees to pay back $94,500 to people who overpaid utilities from June 2007 to May of this year. Another $6,600 will go to residents who stayed under their utility allowances.

The Legal Aid Justice Center is representing six public housing residents who brought the suit but attorneys say as many as 500 current and former CRHA residents could get money back.

The authority has also updated its policies for utility payments.

“It's a great settlement. It helps people still going forward who live in public housing. There's a huge amount of rent credits, they'll have higher allowances so they won't be overcharged as often, and it also helps the people who were charged in the past six years or so, they'll get something back,” said Brenda Castañeda, a Legal Aid Justice Center attorney.

The center is searching for former public housing residents who've moved away and are owed money from this settlement.

CRHA residents will be able to speak directly to the judge about the settlement during a fairness hearing in Charlottesville Federal Court on January 13 at 2 p.m.