Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency in case of Appeal of Thomas E. Hessler, S.S. No. 206-18-3115, dated January 10, 1985.
Stephen B. Lipson, for petitioner.
Lawana M. Johns, for respondent.
Judges Craig and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 353]
Petitioners Thomas E. and Jeanne L. Hessler appeal from a hearing examiner's order of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, which rejected their application for aid under the Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, after having initially given approval.
The appeal presents two questions. We must decide whether the findings of fact made by the hearing examiner are supported by substantial evidence, and whether the hearing examiner, in relying upon those findings, erred as a matter of law by concluding that the Hesslers are not suffering financial hardship due to circumstances beyond their control.*fn1 However, before addressing that question, we must decide as a matter of procedure whether the respondent agency could spontaneously reverse its original determination awarding Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance
[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 354]
to the Hesslers for one year, where that reversal occurred more than thirty days after the date of the original determination and where there was no advance notice to the Hesslers, nor opportunity for them to be heard, before the agency issued its reversal.
In November, 1980, Mr. Hessler's previous employer terminated his position because of slow market conditions. He remained unemployed until February, 1982, when he secured full-time employment with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. However, during Mr. Hessler's period of unemployment, he fell delinquent two months on his home mortgage payments. After he assumed his employment with the Commonwealth, he became delinquent two further months.
The Hesslers applied to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency in April, 1984 for Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance. Before the agency issued its decision, the Hesslers, by letter which the agency received on August 13, 1984, stated that they had recently purchased a used automobile and had obtained manufacturer-financing in the amount of $3,000. On August 19, 1984, the agency approved their application, thus indicating the agency would assist them in satisfying their arrearages.
However, in October, 1984, the agency rescinded its decision to provide assistance, informing the Hesslers that their continued delinquent payments, despite an annual household income of nearly $30,000, and their ability to obtain credit for the car purchase led the agency to conclude that they had failed to demonstrate that hardship due to circumstances beyond their control ...