Section 8 investigators on hold, 90 more days

Section 8

Attorney Catherine Lhamon of Public Counsel speaks to residents outside of the Kenneth Hahn Hall Administration building, after the Board of Supervisors went into a closed session.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend its moratorium on funding for Section 8 fraud enforcement in Lancaster and Palmdale for 90 days.

The Board made the decision after hearing testimony from nearly a dozen residents. The majority of those who testified spoke in favor of continuing the moratorium. Some vented their frustrations to the Board by relaying stories of harassment and mistreatment at the hands of Section 8 investigators and local law enforcement.

Many residents who spoke to the Board of Supervisors were transported to the meeting, via bus, by the Community Action League.

Many residents who spoke to the Board of Supervisors were transported to the meeting, via bus, by the Community Action League.

Palmdale resident Pharaoh Mitchell told Supervisors that nearly a dozen deputies, operating under the guise of a Section 8 fraud check, had searched his house for hours. He said when they found no evidence of fraud they called Children’s Services on him.

“Palmdale and the City of Lancaster have been harassing Blacks and Latino residents who are trying to find a better life for themselves and their families,” Mitchell told Supervisors. “I urge you to continue this moratorium and end the harassment and fears of our community members in the Antelope Valley.”

Others said Section 8 investigations had moved beyond fighting fraud and crime and were now an effort to drive out members of the community.

“They’ve launched investigations with tactics to drive Section 8 [tenants] out of their cities so that even if you aren’t terminated from the program, you choose to leave, and if you are terminated wrongly, you are afraid to fight,” said NAACP National Board Member Ron Hasson.

“Lancaster’s mayor has openly referred to a war on more than 3,000 families who participate in the housing choice voucher program and launched an attack on participants and landlords who rented to them,” Lancaster resident Maureen Feller told the Board. “City officials’ actions have turned neighbor against neighbor. We’re one community and everyone belongs here.”

At least one testifier disagreed with the notion that Section 8 fraud investigations were racially motivated attacks by city leaders.

“The city officials do not enforce the rules regarding Section 8; it is the county’s job to oversee that, so these investigators are not directed by city officials,” said Chris Johnson of Antelope Valley Ministry Alliance. “This is not an issue of racism on the part of leadership of Lancaster or Palmdale, and I would tell you that I am pleased to live in a city that is very much committed to each of its citizens.”

Following the testimony, the Board of Supervisors went behind closed doors to decide whether to approve the memoranda of understanding (MOU) for the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale that authorized funding for additional Section 8 fraud investigators in the Antelope Valley.

In June, the Board voted unanimously to place a 90 day moratorium on the MOU’s as a response to a lawsuit filed June 7, 2011. The federal lawsuit was filed against the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, claiming more than 3,600 Black and Latino families using Section 8 were victims of constant, unbearable harassment at the hands of housing authority investigators, sheriff’s deputies and local politicians.

The Board of Supervisors’ decision Tuesday to extend the moratorium for 90 more days was good news for NAACP President Juan Blanco, who had previously appealed to the Board to continue to postpone funding for Section 8 enforcement until the federal lawsuit was resolved.

“The NAACP is pleased that the Supervisors voted to continue the moratorium on the MOUs between the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale in the hopes of bringing to a settlement the litigation that has been filed,” said Blanco. “We certainly hope that this will improve the progress towards a better and more inclusive community.”

  34 comments for “Section 8 investigators on hold, 90 more days

  1. S. Parker
    September 23, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Law enforcement could not continue to ‘harass’ Sec 8 recipients if they weren’t finding anything. A woman at the supervisors meeting said she was stopped and cops found drugs on her, then she wondered why she was homeless and lost her Sec 8! Really?
    There is a way to keep this ‘harassment’ and ‘abuse’ at bay. That is to live within the confines of the law AND and the confined of the Section 8 rules. This means no drugs, no parolees in home, no unregistered guns in home, etc. Sec 8 should not be forever either. This handout should be temporary to get people on their feet, then vacate the program to allow for another person in need.
    But from what I read, Sec 8 people get these handouts, keep them for life as some right or entitlement, and then have the nerve to complain when the rules are enforced on them. They knew they were subject to random housing checks when they signed up for the free ride that we tax payers are paying for!! Like I said before, there is a simple way for Sec 8 recipients to stop this abuse… PAY YOUR OWN WAY!!!

    • William
      September 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      Thank you. I don’t understand why the program itself isn’t under review in these economic times. It’s a federal program that the cities and counties have to deal with with their hands tied, it seems. My biggest complaint aside from the fraud it subsidizing owners of upscale, large homes with pools and subsidizing Section 8 recipients to be able to live in them for a few hundred dollars a month.

      If they are low income, how do they pay for the utilities and maintenance on such a large home? It’s totally absurd. Section 8 should be for apartments, condos, moblie homes, etc. and on a single-family home only if there is a disability or a large number of minor children. Stop the stupidity.

      In fact, I hope this lawsuit brings it enough attention to have the feds look again at the program and fix it.

      • Concerned Citizen
        April 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm

        Get a life with this absurd response and get some education

  2. Matt Keltner
    September 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Miguel, William, S. Parker,

    I wouldn’t bother wasting my time trying to convince “Jo” or anyone else that Section Eight abuse goes on. They are in complete denial. To them, the abuse is justified because they are “American” and it is their “right” to abuse it. We need a serious overhaul of the social safety net in this nation. I hope my generation can bring this about.

    • Jo
      September 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm

      Again, Matt, I’ve never said any such thing. I have no problem with those who abuse Section 8 being kicked off the program, and where warranted, prosecuted. But that doesn’t seem to matter to you. You continually accuse me of saying things that can be proved were never said, by simply reading these pages. But no stats or statistics.
      Why does that make you so bitter and angry, that you have to put words in others mouth?

      I have a very real problem with AMERICAN’S being treated as criminals, because there are those who consider any social program recipient to be a criminal for benefiting from those same programs.

      I’ve asked, again and again, for statistics proving the claims made here. Instead I have you accusing me of saying things that WERE NEVER SAID!

      I have Miguel claiming I’m someone who is a commie scum loving (fill in who he believes is the scum) dried up old hag. But no stats or statistics.

      Mr. Parker has at least refrained from personal attacks. So thank you Mr. Parker. Nice to see there can be a difference of opinions W/O personal attacks from at least on person here.

      • William
        September 22, 2011 at 8:12 pm

        Who, exactly, considers a recipient of a social program a ‘criminal’? People who abuse the programs or are convicted of fraud are considered criminals. “Fraudsters’ are considered criminals. You are doing what you accuse Matt of doing; making stuff up.

        • Matt Keltner
          September 22, 2011 at 10:09 pm


          That’s the thing!!! “Jo” doesn’t want any investigations to take place at all. Notice the snarky tone “Jo” uses when he/she talks about how the Sherriffs Department is being investigated. “Jo” is happy with people abusing the system. He/she wants the abuse to continue unchecked because he/she thinks people have a “right” to abuse it because they are Americans.

          • Jo
            September 23, 2011 at 12:47 am

            Obviously your arguing with someone who lives only in your head. Or your an incredibly dishonest young man. Again, I never said any such thing. I’ll just drop what I consider a conversation you seem to be having with yourself. Since you haven’t read one of my responses and fill in the blanks with what you wish someone had said, there is no need for my involvment.

        • Jo
          September 23, 2011 at 12:39 am

          William. Everyone here arguing for the right of warrant-less, abusive, intimidating searches by sheriffs on Americans for no other reason then they use public assistance. Am I missing something here? Is that not what these folks are telling me they think is OK?

          • Jo
            September 23, 2011 at 1:09 am

            “Guilty until proven innocent” is calling them criminals until we’ve ran our fingers threw their underwear draws and prove otherwise. That’s of course after their original background search, and ongoing regular interviews and compliance checks.

          • William
            September 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm

            Who is saying stuff that you say people are saying?

            If you want to fly in an airplane, you agree to be searched or scanned, whatever they’re doing now. If you want to live in Section 8 housing, you agree to follow the rules and have warrantless checks and whatever else is agreed to. Heck, if you want to go see a live TV show down below, you will pass through a metal detector, same at the AV Fair and that’s without a complaint being filed against you.

            Why is that so hard for you to get. If an investigator (not a sheriff’s deputy) is going to visit a house for a complaint of drug dealing or anything more than a minor annoyance, do you think they should show up un-escorted by the sheriff’s department? You do that job then.

          • Maureen (formally known as sea hag)
            September 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm


            You’re asking us to believe that out of 100% of compliance checks carried out, 70% are dangerous and require deputies to accompany inspectors. Those are the facts here. Compared to the rest of the country. Which is an 8% officer required escort. Proven by a year long study done by a UCLA law professor along with 10 of his senior students. Before any authorities started investigating. Remember, these are NOT parolee compliance checks. These are just people who are poor, and for whatever reason, needed government assistance.

            And that’s not 70% of COMPLAINT driven compliance checks. Where the investigators have reason to believe there is criminal activity. That’s 70% of ALL compliance checks. And the officers have been brutal. Don’t know about anyone else here, BUT I PERSONALLY WANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT.

            And I personally don’t want to wait till someone violates my civil rights before I wake up, so I’ve gotten involved with those who have been victimized. And if someone is renting rooms to parolees or smoking pot, I have no problems with them getting kicked off the program.

            It’s the people who have been scared to death, along with their children, or criminalized with “evidence” they’ve never seen before, or when nothing is found, have children’s services called on them in the hopes of them moving to protect their kids. etc., etc., etc.

            There are very real reason the DOJ are investigating these charges. They’re not moved off their asses easily. This isn’t some pot head losing her section 8. Although I’ve noticed that one lady always gets her story told by our local news media. Wonder why that is?

            But I understand why you and Matt question the validity of the claims being made. It’s always best to find out the facts for yourself. Maybe you’d be interested in coming to one of the meetings that are held by the lawyers involved? The UCLA professor (forgot his name, but will locate) uncovered some incredibly questionable behavior by ALL branches off authority here. And yes, rex’s mouth makes him, well, you know.

            You’re also invited Matt, if you really want to understand what’s happening here.

  3. Miguel A .Rivera
    September 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Pharoah- “The truth is over 3000 homes got saved from foreclosure because the people on section 8”

    *Yep, and the neighborhoods might as well be abandoned! Now we have break ins, robberies, car thefts, home invasion – things we didn’t have before Section 8 arrived en masse.*

    Pharoah- “hundreds of thousands of dollars go in to local businesses because of people on section 8”

    *Sure. Places like Wal-Mart, Churchs Chicken, KFC, Popeyes, McDonalds, Fake Hair shops, Nail Salons, Pay Day Advance, The Dollar Tree, the Pawn Shop.*

    Pharoah-“land taxes get paid to the city of Lancaster and Palmdale because the people on section 8”

    *Not by anyone on Section 8! Who are you kidding! It is the owners who pay! And they better!!!!! Considering how their new tenants are driving up crime and keeping the sherrif’s dept. of both cities very busy!!!!*

    Pharoah- “schools get money from people on section 8”

    *Yeah…more free lunch money from the state and federal governments! More security hired to control discipline problems, more money spent on “midnight basketball”, more money from the county spent on teaching thugs how to be “good dads” and role models. My kids cant even get the classes they need at AV College because thugs on welfare are taking up room in the classes so that they can get their state money and then drop out of the class after three weeks.*

    Pharoah-“and local grocery stores makes millions off of people on section 8.”

    *Yep! “We accept EBT”, “EBT accepted here” Big Mama comes rolling up to the line with her three carts full of free groceries all paid for by the taxpayers.*

    Pharoah- “Stop the madness people!”

    *The so called ‘madness” is a product of you and other people on Se<tion 8 that you have brought to the Antelope Valley. so Thanks for that! and thanks for ruining this once peacful town that I worked and saved money for in the 1990s, just so people like you could destroy it!!!! *

    • Jo
      September 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Sure, EVERYONE on Section 8 is a criminal. And ALL our problems are because of 3,000+ families on Section 8! Miguel, do you have even ONE statistic to back up your emotional tirade? Are you aware that the city of Lancaster commissioned a study 6 years ago, to map crime in Section 8 households vs. rental neighborhoods? Have you seen that study? No? Why do you think that is? Could it be that it DOESN’T show what people like you want to believe?

      It’s one thing to be against a social safety net like Section 8. It’s a whole different thing to treat those on the program you DON’T approve of, like they are less then American. Anyone who supports gestapo tactics being used on other America’s is a traitor to our great country. You don’t have to like your fellow American’s to stand up for their rights!

      NO ONE supports those who commit fraud. But EVERYONE should support our fellow American’s who have been judge guilty, and treated as such, when they aren’t guilty of anything except using a legal program to better their lives.

      By judging all guilty, you have opened the door for yourself to be judge guilty. Regardless of guilt or innocence! In this valley, we seem to no longer be concerned as to real guilt. We have decided that it’s OK if the innocent are punished, as long as one guilty person also gets punished.

      And as long as good men sit back and allow this to happen, we have lost everything America stands for. Individual rights! With people like you, we need not fear outside enemies. We have people like you, right here and now, destroying what we as a country stand for. Individual rights. God have pity on our collective soul!

      • Miguel A .Rivera
        September 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm

        Yes, thanks Maureen Feller! I so need a lecture from you…you disgusting lover & defender of parasites!

        • Jo
          September 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm

          Nice. You throw out a name instead of statistics. Well done. Lover of ………really? What exactly are you accusing others of being lovers of……?

          Those W/O facts need to use personal attacks.

          “Yes, thanks Maureen Feller! I so need a lecture from you…you disgusting lover & defender of parasites!”

          This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

  4. AV Town Crier
    September 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I think the Board of Supervisors wussed out. I think they need to continue to do inspection to weed out the massive fraud. The problem is–how they go about it. I know in the Kingdom of Rexville they are way too heavy handed.

    Not everybody on Section 8 is a crook. I think the Constitutional concept of the presumption of innocence should prevail. I think it’s wrong to show up on the doorstep and bust in and search your home just because you’re on Section 8 is wrong. This is Gestapo tactics.

    But, on the same token, they do have a right to investigate if there are indications of fraud. But, either way, discretion and the presumption of innocence should prevail.

    • Jo
      September 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      Less then 2% have been proven to be crooks. Why do we keep pretending it’s 90%?

  5. S. Parker
    September 22, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Yes, there may be a few cases where innocent Sec 8 people are being harassed. But there are MORE cases of people in blatant violation. Should that be ignored? Quite honestly, it’s a little hard to feel bad for people who are getting a handout. There is a simple way to stop the “invading” of your homes for fraud checks. Get off Sec 8 and pay your own way!!

    • Jo
      September 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      With less then 2% having been proven to have committed fraud, how do you get this “But there are MORE cases of people in blatant violation”???

      I’m so sick of people acting like their emotions are truth! Where are your statistics proving your statements? Are you taking the word of those who hate social safety programs as facts?

      Please provide the proof of your allegations!

      • Miguel A .Rivera
        September 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm

        Anyone who has lived in this Valley for any length of time has seen it go downhill into a chaotic abyss since the Sect. 8 ghetto dwellers relocated here in 2004 to 2007. Its not a secret by any means. Talk to any local Sherriff and they will say “if you know whats good for you and your family, get out! move somewhere else! save your money and go to Saugus! go to Acton or Antelope Acres!” or “if you care about your kids then move!”

        So yes Maureen (defender of scum & parasites)I think the sherrif’s dept. has alot more knowledge and access to these information than you do !

        • Jo
          September 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

          Is it black people that scare you Miguel?

          The same sheriffs being investigated? And if the sheriffs are to afraid to live here, they have no business serving here.

          Again, you throw out a name, as if you believe that should hurt me?

          You know nothing about me.

          But be all means, continue to live in fear of those scary “black folk”. And always always take antidotes from the local law instead of FACTS!

          Maybe you should move to one of the locations the sheriffs have suggested. There is no place in my town for someone who is to afraid to find out what the facts are. There is no place in my town for bigots. There is no place in my town OR COUNTRY, for someone who would punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty.

          And don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!

          • Miguel A Rivera
            September 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm

            hey ghetto-lover,

            So this is “your country” now? Don’t think so you dried up old hag ! Try again? Did you serve in the military? Nope. I did. You get the he’ll out of this country you communist, scum loving, dried up sea hag!

          • Jo
            September 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm

            “You get the he’ll out of this country you communist, scum loving, dried up sea hag!”

            WOW! LOL.

          • Jo
            September 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

            Why not call me what you really want to call me Miguel? Come on now. Show us how brave you really are. You’re saying it in your head right now. So do it!

          • Maureen
            September 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm

            Hey Miguel. Maureen Feller here. That’s Dried up Old Desert Rat TO You! If you’re gonna say it, get it right!

  6. Pharaoh Mitchell
    September 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    [Comment removed at the request of the author]

    • William
      September 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      Is there an issue with people coming from outside the Antelope Valley and using Section 8 vouchers to ‘rent’ a 5 bedroom/3 bath home with a pool while long time residents of the AV can’t get Section 8 vouchers? That’s one complaint I heard over and over.

      People WITHOUT Section 8 who are low-income pay full price for their rent which might be an apartment or a mobile home. Why can’t Section 8 recipients make do with such shelter. And why is the government subsidizing the owners of those large, upscale homes (you can see all the ads in the AV classifieds) so they don’t have to accept lower rental charges on the open market which further disadvantages low-income renters without Section 8 assistance.

      The Section 8 recipients you are defending aren’t the only ones with complaints. Do you claim that there is no fraud? If not, how would you handle the complaints from neighbors and investigation to your satisfaction? Or do you want the complaints to be simply ignored?

      Oh, and it’s not ‘your’ home if you are a renter any more than it’s you car if it’s from Hertz or a book from the library. If you don’t obey the regulations, you are no longer eligible to get Section 8. Maybe, you can work a deal with the landlord if you don’t want to be evicted and pay full rent.

      • Jo
        September 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        NO ONE is saying don’t investigate. Are you aware that out of 900 calls complaining about section 8 residents, less then 300 turn out to be on Section 8?

        • William
          September 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm

          So. The complainants may not know whether or not the homes are Section 8, so that’s not the sheriff’s departments fault. They may suspect it’s a Section 8 house since they won’t tell you if you call and ask.

          Face it. There wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t a ‘problem’ in the first place. Can’t you get that?

          • Jo
            September 23, 2011 at 1:05 am

            William? Never said it was the sheriffs fault. What I’m trying to say is that the accusations of problems with Section 8 homes has been exaggerated.

            “Face it. There wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t a ‘problem’ in the first place. Can’t you get that?”

            Do you realize that there is more truth to your statement then you may think? For 6 years now, the complaints about over zealous sheriffs raids have been happening to people in the unincorporated areas on the many mini ranches here? NAT teams have been doing, with back up from branches of our city government, the same highly questionable, abusive “swoops and searches” as reported by Section 8 users? With a strong push to get them off their land! Those who have been hit hardest have been land owners and predominantly white. Even vets. There is a whole grass roots organization made of people trying to fight back. AVTO. The Antelope Valley Truckers org.

            Littlerock, Antelope acres, north south east and west. So yes, many times where there’s smoke, there IS fire.

        • William
          September 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm

          I saw the Lancaster council meeting where they questioned the people from the Section 8 department and they simply declined to answer many questions. Now, I’m not a fan of anyone in Lancaster politics but Ron Smith questioned the guy in charge over and over on why his stats didn’t distinguish more accurately the # of ‘valid’ Section 8 complaints. He said it should only take a moment to check the address.

          So, you have a large number of complaints ‘called Section 8’ complaints with a small number of actual violations. Well, that’s not the sheriff’s fault that neighbors mistakenly call in on a house that is not Section 8 but think it is.

          The way they keep stats is misleading. BTW Are there people not on Section 8 who have filed complaints against the sheriff’s department or are they only Section 8 recipients in this particular lawsuit. For all the words written on the subject, there is a lot of information missing.

  7. William
    September 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I wonder if Palmdale and Lancaster will compare the stats on the number of Section 8 houses in each city from the time of the lawsuit and if and when the moratorium is lifted. Will complaints from residents be kept on file for the duration? If not, why not? Will the sheriff’s department respond to calls about a problem in a house that happens to be Section 8? If drugs or another type of crime has been committed, do the deputies not inform Section 8? Boy, oh, boy.

    Would it surprise you if there was a spike in Section 8 voucher recipients if the rest of the county finds it convenient to move their problem to the Antelope Valley?

    “Neighbor against neighbor”??? If someone notices drug dealing or other problems from a house in their neighborhood, they’re supposed to ignore it, Section 8 not Section 8. It might seem more likely that a Section 8 occupant would be evicted than an actual homeowner or a non-Section 8 renter. So, people might find it easier to take action by calling the sheriff’s department with Section 8 occupants rather than homeowners.
    Why is the govenment subsizing landlords’ inflated rental fees, disadvantaging regular low-income renters, and subsidizing the rental of large 5 bedroom, 3 bath homes with POOL? That shouldn’t even be allowed but it never gets addressed. Two families could be subsidized in apartments or condos for the cost of a upscale home subsidy.

    Does anyone else think that Mayor Bigmouth’s reckless comments over the last few years have gotten all over this side of the Cactus Curtain and implicated Mayor Ledford and Palmdale unfairly? I just don’t recall reading any articles in the AV Press regarding Section 8 problems in Palmdale, even if there were some.

Comments are closed.