SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A federal judge has barred a housing authority from evicting tenants whose household members allegedly engaged in outside drug activity without the tenants' knowledge.

The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer allows four elderly tenants to stay in their homes while they and other tenants challenge the federal government's ``one-strike'' eviction policy.

The policy requires agencies overseeing federally-funded housing to evict tenants for criminal drug-related activity committed ``on or near'' the premises by a tenant, household member, guest or someone under the tenant's control.

The Oakland Housing Authority had sought to evict four elderly tenants, including one 63-year-old woman whose mentally-disabled daughter was accused of possessing cocaine three blocks from the apartment.

In Friday's ruling, Breyer said the federal law did not appear to require eviction of ``innocent'' tenants who were unaware of drug activity.

He also said the policy ``appears irrational because evicting the tenant will not reduce drug-related activity, since the tenant has not engaged in any such activity or knowingly allowed such activity to occur.''

Gary Lafayette, a lawyer for the housing authority, said the agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had not decided whether to appeal the injunction or leave it in place while the case went to trial.