National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty v. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Topic(s): 
Government Transparency - FOIA
Documents:
Case Description: 

In May 2017, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requesting documents related to applications for the Continuum of Care Program, a HUD grant program that funds certain services for homeless families and individuals. In making the request, NLCHP requested a waiver of fees for searching and copying, noting that the statutory considerations for granting a fee waiver—the documents sought were not for a commercial purpose, but to inform the public about a matter of public interest—were met. HUD, however, took months to respond to NLCHP’s request and then denied the fee waiver request and failed to produce the requested records. With joint representation by Public Citizen Litigation Group and NLCHP, NLCHP filed suit challenging the denial of the fee waiver and seeking disclosure of the requested records.

After NLCHP filed this lawsuit, HUD granted NLCHP’s request in part, producing some records to NLCHP and agreeing to waive fees. Asserting the deliberative process privilege, however, HUD continued to withhold material containing the scores the agency assigned to entities’ responses to specific questions on 2015 and 2016 grant applications. NLCHP contended that those withholdings were improper, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.