Our Stories

Antelope Valley Fair Housing Update: U.S. Launches Probe of L.A. Sheriff Over Racial Allegations


U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez announced a probe of racial bias with L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca

U.S. officials are investigating possible fair housing violations in the Antelope Valley, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez told reporters. The huge announcement comes two months after Public Counsel and other groups filed a federal lawsuit against the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale.

"The promise of America is possible only when we have freedom to live where we choose," Perez told reporters.

Public Counsel released a statement today that welcomed the Department of Justice’s "efforts to safeguard fair housing in the Antelope Valley and ensure people can seek a better life for their families free from harassment and fear." Read the full statement below.

Our lawsuit raised concerns about the involvement of Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies in Lancaster and Palmdale's harassment of black and Latino residents who are part of the Federal Housing Choice Voucher program ("Section 8"). 

Sheriff Lee Baca said he was releasing information related to sheriffs' cooperation with the cities' housing program and changing the way police handled housing complaints.

Antelope Valley residents concerned about racial bias can contact the U.S. Department of Justice toll-free at (877) 218-5228 or community.antelope@usdoj.gov.

Statement on U.S. Department of Justice Investigation of L.A. Sheriff over Section 8 Harassment

The following statement is from attorneys for Antelope Valley residents who sued the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale on June 7, 2011, to protect fair housing. They are Public Counsel, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, 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:

"Our lawsuit raised concerns about the involvement of Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies in Lancaster and Palmdale's harassment of black and Latino residents who are part of the Federal Housing Choice Voucher program ("Section 8"). The lawsuit alleges that Sheriff’s deputies worked with housing investigators to intimidate Section 8 participants -- sometimes more than a dozen deputies appeared on participants’ doorsteps during purported “compliance checks” with their guns drawn. Public records indicate that, in Lancaster and Palmdale, housing inspectors were joined by Sheriff's deputies on nearly 70% of their visits to residents' homes, while in the rest of the County, deputies accompany housing investigators only 8% of the time. The County Board of Supervisors has voted to suspend the County’s participation in the cities’ program of harassment pending an investigation, and we are in discussions with the County about our concerns over county employees’ involvement. We welcome the Department of Justice’s efforts to safeguard fair housing in the Antelope Valley and ensure people can seek a better life for their families free from harassment and fear."