'A Better Life for Families': Public Counsel and Antelope Valley Residents Fight for Fair Housing
Public Counsel's Catherine Lhamon with Antelope Valley residents Jesse Smith and Emmett Murrell.
Antelope Valley residents went to court on Tuesday, June 7, to stop racial discrimination against 3,600 black and Latino families in Lancaster and Palmdale, two cities north of Los Angeles.
The families are part of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, which is meant to encourage economic and racial integration and to enable the historic victims of discrimination to live in communities of their own choosing. But 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.
"We're asking that Section 8 participants in the Antelope Valley be given an opportunity to enjoy their homes and their communities freely. The hopes of 11,000 Lancaster and Palmdale residents for a better life for their families are at stake," said Catherine Lhamon, impact litigation director.
“The cities made the words ‘Section 8’ something that is almost criminal,” said Jesse Smith, a Palmdale resident and spokesperson for the NAACP. "We are taking the first step to speak out about the injustices."
UPDATED June 21: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted for a 90-day moratorium on enhanced housing inspections that have led to racial discrimination in the Antelope Valley. The action came in response to the lawsuit filed June 7 on behalf of black and Latino families. Click here to read a statement about the County's action.