Press ReleasesJune 21, 2011
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Action Is an Important Step Toward Justice for Antelope Valley Residents
On Tuesday, June 21, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to continue a moratorium on enhanced inspections of Antelope Valley families participating in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program after residents alleged racial discrimination by the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale. The moratorium will be in effect until September 6, 2011. The following statement is from attorneys for the residents who sued the two cities on June 7, 2011, to stop the discrimination. They are Public Counsel, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles, the NAACP Office of General Counsel, UCLA Professor of Law Gary Blasi, and the law firms of Lewis Feinberg Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker, & Jackson, P.C., and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP:
"The vote today by the Board of Supervisors is an important step toward justice in the Antelope Valley.
"Fifty years ago families led a movement to end racial segregation in America’s neighborhoods. They faced harassment and hostility but were ultimately vindicated by history. Today in parts of Los Angeles County, black and Latino residents face some of the same tactics once used to keep families out of historically white neighborhoods.
"Black and Latino families taking their vouchers to Lancaster and Palmdale have been victims of constant, unbearable harassment at the hands of housing authority investigators, sheriff’s deputies and local politicians who have incited neighbors against the families. “The cities made the words ‘Section 8’ something that is almost criminal,” one resident said.
"By targeting participants in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, the cities have sent a clear message to black and Latino residents living near the poverty line: “you are not wanted here.” Their actions violate not just the intent of the Section 8 program, created to let families find quality, safe housing in neighborhoods of their choosing, but also Federal Fair Housing and civil rights laws and the California and U.S. Constitution.
"The Board of Supervisors has taken an important step to end this harassment by voting to suspend unfair investigations of Section 8 residents in Lancaster and Palmdale conducted with the clear intent of removing poor black and Latino families from the critical program."