Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Rights of Requestors and the Responsibilities of Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located § 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees. A public record is any writing or recording -- regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format -- that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies. The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.

Your FOIA Rights
• You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records.
• You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
• If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.
• No provision of FOIA shall be construed to afford any rights to any person (i) incarcerated in a state, local or federal correctional facility, whether or not such facility is (a) located in the Commonwealth or (b) operated pursuant to the Corrections Private Management Act (§ 53.1-261 et seq.) or (ii) civilly committed pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predators Act (§ 37.2-900 et seq.). However, this restriction shall not be construed to prevent such persons from exercising their constitutionally protected rights, including, but not limited to, their right to call for evidence in their favor in a criminal prosecution.
Making a request for the records from the Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone. FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA.
It is advisable that a record be made of FOIA requests. It may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. To that end, you may be asked to complete a FOIA request form or an NRHA representative may complete one for you using the verbal information you supply. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.

  • Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity." This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.
  • Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority, nor does it require Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority to create a record that does not exist. However, Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority may summarize information under such terms and conditions as agreed to between the Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority and the requester.
  • You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority in the regular course of business. For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records.
  • If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff's efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.

To request records from Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority, you may direct your requests to: 
FOIA Coordinator
Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority
P.O. Box 968
Norfolk, VA 23501-0968

(757) 314-1682 Phone
(757) 314-2105 Fax

You may also contact us with questions you have concerning requesting records from Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority. In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any questions you may have about FOIA. The Council may be contacted by e-mail at foiacouncil@leg.state.va.us, or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or toll free at 1-866-448-4100.


Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority's Responsibilities in responding to your request:

  • Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it. "Day One" is considered the day after your request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.
  • The reason behind your request for public records from Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority is irrelevant, and you do not have to state why you want the records before we respond to your request. FOIA does, however, allow Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority to ask you to provide your name and legal address.
  • FOIA requires that Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:
  • We provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.
  • We withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption. If all of the records are being withheld, we must send you a response in writing. That writing must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records.
  • We provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other records. We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption. In that instance, we may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld, and must provide you with the remainder of the record. We must provide you with a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.
  • We inform you in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (we do not have the records you want). However, if we know that another public body has the requested records, we must include contact information for the other public body in our response to you.
  • If it is practically impossible for Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority to respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible. This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12 working days to respond to your request.
  • If you make a request for a very large number of records or your request requires an extraordinary lengthy search, and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 working days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request. However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production or the records before we go to court to ask for more time.

Costs
 

  • You may have to pay for the records that you request from Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority. FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests. This would include items like staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records. It cannot include general overhead costs.
  • You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that you have requested. This will allow you to know about any costs upfront, or give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated costs.
  • If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority may require payment of the past-due bill before it will respond to your new FOIA request.

Types of Records NRHA Maintains

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority maintains records in accordance with timelines set forth by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Library of Virginia and other governing bodies as determined by the type of record. The following is an illustration of the types of records NRHA maintains, but is not conclusive. Contact NRHA if you are interested in a record that you do not see listed here.

  • Housing statistics
  • Annual report information
  • Assisted rental records (Housing Choice Voucher/Section 8 and public housing)
  • Client Services/Workforce development information
  • Homebuyer assistance program records
  • Residential rehabilitation and relocation records
  • Housing Reinvention records and grant applications
  • Property acquisition and sales
  • Neighborhood revitalization research and plans
  • Budget, procurement and financial records
  • Board of Commissioners meeting minutes
  • Architectural design plans

Commonly Used Exemptions

The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. It is the policy of Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority to withhold records subject to the following exemptions:

  • Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
  • Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))
  • Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))
  • Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))

 

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NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATION - NRHA provides equal housing and employment opportunities for all persons. NRHA does not discriminate against any applicant, resident or employee on the basis of disability, age, race, color, religion, gender, familial status or national origin in the admission, access or operations of programs, services or activities. NRHA complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. An internal grievance procedure is available to resolve complaints. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you have the right to file a complaint of discrimination  by calling toll free (888) 799-2085. Qualified individuals who need communication aids, services or other accommodations to participate in programs and activities are invited to make your needs known to the 504/ADA Coordinator. Please give NRHA at least seven to ten days advance notice to meet your needs