Lancaster alleges ‘housing discrimination’ in ongoing Section 8 conflict

LANCASTER – The Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles has discriminated against non-African Americans looking to participate in the Section 8 program, has engaged in discriminatory racial steering practices, and has failed to enforce the terms of the Section 8 program it administers. This is what the City of Lancaster alleges, according to the details of a Housing Discrimination Complaint the city is filing against the County of Los Angeles and the County Housing Authority.

The formal complaint was approved by the Lancaster City Council Tuesday to be filed with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The city alleges that the Housing Authority is intentionally favoring African Americans over Latinos and other protected classes when administering the Section 8 Program and cites several statistics to prove its point.

“There is no compelling reason or justification for [the Housing Authority’s] practice of awarding four times as many Section 8 vouchers to African Americans than to Latinos given the fact that, as a whole, individuals of Latino descent far out number individuals of African American descent in Lancaster,” the complaint states.

The complaint also alleges that the Housing Authority is steering Section 8 participants away from the Los Angeles basin area and luring them to the Antelope Valley by advertising low monthly home and apartment rentals.

“As a result of [the Housing Authority’s] unlawful and racially discriminatory steering, Lancaster’s well integrated neighborhoods are now beginning to segregate. [The Housing Authority’s] discriminatory actions have turned a program intended to integrate through housing choice into a vehicle of segregation,” the complaint states.

The complaint also cites several statistical analyses to back up the allegation that it is nearly impossible for the Housing Authority to properly enforce the Section 8 program at its current staffing levels.

“As a result, numerous individuals are allowed to retain benefits which should be terminated… In turn, numerous individuals and families… who would otherwise be entitled to benefits of the Section 8 Program, are denied such benefits and, therefore, denied fair and adequate housing,” the complaint states.

The complaint goes on to say the alleged acts constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act. Read the entire Housing Discrimination Complaint here.

Lancaster’s Housing Discrimination Complaint comes in the wake of recent decisions by both the county and the city of Palmdale to settle a federal lawsuit brought forward by the NAACP and The Community Action League, which claims Black and Latino families using Section 8 housing vouchers in Lancaster and Palmdale are victims of constant, unbearable harassment at the hands of housing authority investigators, sheriff’s deputies and local politicians.

The county was not named in the lawsuit; still the county board of supervisors on Jan. 24 announced it had reached a settlement agreement with provisions that included the following: Deputies could no longer ride along on Section 8 compliance checks, law enforcement could not know which homes were Section 8 homes, and there would be no extra Section 8 housing investigators for Lancaster and Palmdale. (Read more here)

A week later, the city of Palmdale reached a similar settlement agreement (read more here), meaning Lancaster, alone, was left to fight the lawsuit.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris strongly criticized both settlement agreements (read more here and here), and said they were giving “comfort to criminals perpetrating housing fraud in the Antelope Valley.” Parris said the city would be fighting the lawsuit all the way to the end and maintained that the Housing Authority was administering the Section 8 program in a manner that was “detrimental to hardworking families.”

In its Housing Discrimination Complaint against the Housing Authority and the county, the city sticks to this premise. Read the entire Housing Discrimination Complaint here.

  52 comments for “Lancaster alleges ‘housing discrimination’ in ongoing Section 8 conflict

  1. CKAY
    March 16, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Racism is what Boss Rex uses to divert attention away from what he tries to rule and steal from. Wake up! You can’t be that foolish.

  2. Denise Latanzi
    March 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    There is a whole lot of stupidity in this whole argument. The reason the AV has so many Section 8 homes is because we have WAY to many rentals. The reason we have WAY to many rentals is because for 2 decades, the only that that has mattered to some local politicians is more “rooftops”, which has resulted in overbuilding, which has resulted in investors buying up a huge number of homes every time there is a downturn in the economy, which they then turn into highly profitable Section 8 rentals.
    Local developers invest heavily into the Lancaster political machine’s pockets, the city eagerly approves the developments regardless of the very serious water issues we have, and with no regard to the fact that our economy is boom and bust, or the fact that they need to CONTROL the growth here to insure that we are not as vulnerable to economic ups and downs.
    They want to point the finger at poor people, when the real responsibility lies with them. They are the ones that have made MILLIONS, maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars making SURE our valley has more houses than we need (by far).

    • Denise Latanzi
      March 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      oh, and for the record, when most people complain about the Section 8 home on their street, they have no way of knowing if the home is a regular rental or a Section 8 home. The VAST majority of public complaints about Section 8 that are phoned in turn out not to be Section 8 at all, but regular rentals. Sad, but true.

    • William
      March 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      I keep asking why the government is subsidizing the rents on large, upscale homes with pools so the landlords don’t have to rent them on the open market, thereby driving rents up, especially for non-Section 8 renters.

      There should be some restrictions on the type and size of Section 8 approved homes and none with pools. That is unacceptable for so many reasons. Section 8 renters should be assisted in appropriate shelter such as apartments, condos, small homes depending on family size, etc., and not for a life-style upgrade. There are non-Section 8 people living in guest units and mobile homes in trailer parks, paying their own way. That should be fine for Section 8 renters as well.

      • Denise Latanzi
        March 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm

        To me, it doesn’t matter if the home is large or small, its that it exists at all is the problem. Here they get homes with pools because their vouchers cover it, the homes exist and have been bought up in huge numbers by investors for the sole purpose of making a huge amount of money on them.

        Think about it. You’re looking to become a landlord, you can buy a home in this market for under $100,000, make it habitable, and then rent it out for $1500, $2200 a month, guaranteed money because the government is taking responsibility for sending you your money in time.
        Now multiply that by 100 or more, and you quickly see what huge profits can be made. Worse, the landlords often have payment of $300-$500 a month on these houses, so they gross $1200 minimum a month on every home they own, the more they own, the more money they make.
        That’s why these investors and developers dump so much money into local politics, they don’t want anyone interrupting their gravy train.

        So, next time you hear someone say anything about the heroic actions of the mighty king Parris, you might want to remind them that this guy, and the rest of the folks sitting on the council, particularly Ron Smith with his campaign financiers from Los Angeles, have all used the profits generated by SECTION 8 to get elected.

        • William
          March 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm

          It’s sickening and the residents who are working and paying mortgage payments, maybe upside-down in their homes, are the ones who suffer. Does anyone think Parris and the rest of them are suffering?

        • common sense
          March 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

          Denise, you’re wrong on a few points. There is nothing wrong with investing in real estate rentals. If in fact Lancaster HAS overbuilt, it’s a done deal, and someone needs to own those properties. I know if I owned one, the idea of accepting Section 8 would appeal to me in one regard: I could recover some of my tax money that I have paid to let these folks get free rent all these years. That’s a discussion for a different day though. Section 8 should be limited to 2 bedroom apartments, much like the projects in LA, and they should be located at 200th St E~and about Ave G. If you TRULY need the assistance, you will make the drive. There should be no pools, no 5 bedroom houses, etc. Contrary to your statement, Denise, what tips off the neighbors to a Section 8 home is the dead yard, the 15 occupants of the house, the trash can overflowing, the loud music, the Escalades and Hummers blaring rap music as they drive down your street, only to have the overweight woman with multiple illegitimate kids, manicured ghetto nails and hair extensions exit the car and proudly tell you that she is on Section 8. They are proud of it. It’s a badge of honor in this Valley! I think most of us probably sympathize with a family who has worked their whole life, but fell on hard times, who needs some temporary help. That’s not what we see in this Valley though, we see the folks I described above, making it a way of life, living off the taxpayer nipple, and doing it proudly!

          • William
            March 17, 2012 at 10:59 am

            What bugs me is that, given waiting lists, why is the program subsidizing most of the rent on a $1,700/month 5/3, w/pool, when they could put a couple of families in 2 $900/month apartments, if that’s the going rate.

            The program needs an overhaul, but the local officials can’t do it.

          • Matt S
            March 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

            Spoken like a true section 8 slumlord. “Hey, don’t blame me, I’m just getting my taxes back!” And “put them out where we won’t see them”. Lets see how they get on their feet as far away from opportunities as possible!

          • Denise Latanzi
            March 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm

            I don’t believe I ever said that there is anything wrong with being a Landlord, period. What I have a problem with is the city allowing such gross overbuilding, with the full knowledge in advance that a high percentage of them will end up in large, out of town investors hands, who then rent them out with no care or concern about what happens to the surrounding neighbors.
            I am not going to address the fallacy that the problem is Section 8 alone, its not. RENTALS are the problem, period!
            I’ll repeat, the majority of complaints that come in to the Section 8 hotline involve properties that are NOT involved with the Section 8 program. People are ABSOLUTELY having problems with neighbors who let their lawn die, play loud music, have way to many people living in their homes, let the homes become trashy, or don’t pay for trash service. The problem is that the property owners most often don’t live in the AV, don’t care about the condition of the house, and they don’t care what the neighbors have to deal with.
            If you want to change that, the solution should not be focused on the Section 8 program at all, it should be focused on holding the property OWNER responsible for anything that happens on that property. You have to have a business license in the city to rent property, so people in the area should be able to get the property owners name and phone number for any property in their neighborhoods that is a problem so they can complain, and if the owner does not act, the city should simply REVOKE his or her business license. Problem solved.

  3. Carmen
    March 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    It felt good NOT voting for Parris, Johnson and Mann. Adios you [removed].

    • Mercedes Medrano
      March 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      It feels even better convincing other people not to vote for them.

      • William
        March 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm

        Is there some organizing going on to replace Parris and the others? I’d donate a few bucks to assist as I live in Palmdale and the current Lancaster leadership is no friend of my city.

        What does this website allow as far as organizing and communicating for a local election?

  4. Justice Callout
    March 16, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Wait until Boss Rex is re-annointed for another 4 years. This is just a warm up for the old crook.

  5. CKAY
    March 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Our head is not what Rex the crook wants you mislead fool. It’s our walltets. Don’t waste your absentee ballot, get rid of him and his council lackeys.

  6. Gerald
    March 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    This is nothing more or less then Rex trying to avoid, at all cost, the audit the feds want to do on all federal monies coming into Lancaster. What are all of you going to say when you find out Rex and gang have stolen more government money then all the Section 8 recipients in the state?

    When do we get to see compliance officers at city hall?

    • William
      March 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      What do Lancaster residents get for their money? Where is it? The BLVD? That’s it!!!!

      • Dolores
        March 16, 2012 at 4:58 am

        No, we also got a used plane with an infrared camara, we already wrote a check for about 1.5 million for it, to his freind Visco. We are so nice to Mr. Visco and that contractor they name a street for, I am sure they needed the money to take their nice vacations they are probably exausted from counting all the money they have made from the people of Lancaster.

  7. Justice Callout
    March 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Lancaster needs more lawsuits! Take the absentee ballot you just got and re-elect Boss Rex, Ken Unmannly and Sandra (I only pretend to be Hespanic) Johnson. We need 4 more years of this.

    • M. Jimenez
      March 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      go to hell DBW!

      • Justice Callout
        March 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm

        Hell is where Rex comes from. You want more of the same, then marry him and go there. Otherwise, yous your vote and bring us back home.

        • OFFwithyourHEAD!
          March 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

          whatever DBW!

  8. Justice Callout
    March 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Want more of the same? The absentte ballots are out and Boss Rex is flooding us with his crap that he saved Lancaster. Vote him and his fellow crooks out.

  9. William
    March 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Why does it seem impossible to reform the program at the federal level? After all the squabbling among county and local agencies, it seems the problem lies with the design of the program itself, yet, nothing is being done about it.

  10. Monica
    March 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    that is not correct. Mr. Parris like Sandra Johnson will steal and take money from any place

  11. Gladdis
    March 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    J, Common Sense and others, I agree on so many levels. Lancaster is full of corrupt people working at City Hall. They are bonded by family and friendship that goes back along way. Any position that Rex could appoint someone to, he has appointed a friend. Any decision he could make by executive decision, regardless of public outcry, he has made. I have openly crossed them on a few occassions and have been belittled, ridiculed and singled out as a trouble maker.

    • common sense
      March 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Gladdis, I think you misunderstood my comments. I mostly AGREE with Lancaster’s assessment of the program, although I don’t care about Rex one way or the other since I don’t live in Lancaster. I was being sarcastic. The only investigation that needs to be conducted is into the scandalous Section 8 recipients. That was being done by Section 8 investigators with the help of deputies before the usual suspects started screaming racism.

      • M. Jimenez
        March 15, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Yet whenever that TCAL group or the NAACP gets upset they always say how “Blacks AND LATINOS” were targeted by the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster. But when I really look at who is using the Section 8 program I say in my mind WHAT LATINOS are they talking about?!!!????!!!??? There are barely any on section eight at all!

  12. Gladdis
    March 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

    A program that was started for the right reasons found itself run by self-serving people who couldn”t resist the temptations to take bribes. Starting at the entry level of the Section 8 program. Applicants handing $400-$500 over to people inside the system, who would advance them to the top of the wait list. This didn’t happen overnight and was not created by, or discovered by Rex Parris or any of the Investigators. I think some of them have the jobs to do nothing more than collect a pay check, much like some of the Code Enforcement Officers.

    • Justice Callout
      March 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      Rex doesn’t take bribes. There’s too little money in it. He just buys land under aliases and then steers development in that direction.

      • Gladdis
        March 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        So true for all of the people in City Gov. that have the opportunity to take advantage. I agree 100%.

      • William
        March 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm

        Lancaster has the look of what you describe. A few years after I moved to Palmdale in 1990, I concluded that development in Lancaster must be to the advantage of a select few cause it didn’t look like there was any planning going on.

        There were scattered shopping centers about the town, Lancaster Blvd. was dead. Now, the BLVD is too small and inconvenient to get to for a city of 150,000. There are other cities with a half or a third of the population that have better ‘main streets’ or whatever.

        There has always been something weird about Lancaster and I could sense it early on. In the last few years, Lancaster landscaped the BLVD and the Avenue L on- and off-ramps while the new commerical development on 47th Street East in Palmdale is amazing. Lancaster residents don’t seem to get a lot of bang for the buck, do they?

        I don’t know how Lancaster residents tolerate that kind of government decade after decade.

  13. j
    March 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Crook Rex and the council of dupes accuse LA Co. of racism while he, the Grand Dragon of racism, quakes in his Italian shoes hoping this little stunt will buy them time from HUD as to turning over the 49 pages of mandates. Nice ploy Rex. Next time try thinking as much before you get Lancaster sued.

  14. common sense
    March 15, 2012 at 9:35 am let’s see here. More blacks on Section 8 in the AV. More blacks than any other race got their Section 8 taken away for violating the rules. More blacks on Section 8 with 2 Hummers in their garages (belonging to friends of course). More blacks went to jail than any other race for interferring and obstructing the cops. Too many blacks in prison. Yep…that’s definitely racism…..needs to be investigated….NOT!

    • Kyle
      March 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      black people only make up 8-10% of people in LA county but they use 70% of section 8 here. what is wrong with the picture?

      • what if...
        March 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm

        In my (useless and non-authority derived) opinion, breaking the statistics down by race does nothing but foster racism. I think enforcing equality tends to lead to nothing but favoritism for one particular race or another. Giving preference to a group in order to compensate for past transgressions does nothing but push other groups to the side. This leads to further actions to enforce equality for whichever groups you neglected in order to show preference to the other in the first place. Vicious cycle.

        Despite my opinions regarding statistical polling, there could be a number of reasons for the anomaly. Perhaps this could be an issue of literacy and ability to read/understand/complete all the proper paperwork. Maybe this is an example of a cultural phenomenon where a group feels “entitled” due to the history of generations before them instilling that the government owes them, making them more likely to seek out these programs.

        Now, I’m not saying that all Hispanics are illiterate, or that all black people are quick to seek out government aid… I’m saying that the real explanation is probably a combination of social/cultural/historical factors which are driving that deviation.

        Really though, and this is pure speculation, but have you been to a county office? Have you noticed the most common race of people employed by the county? Do you think “solidarity” has something to do with it? What I mean is that if it is not a policy for blacks to get preferential consideration, then it has to be human bias intervening.

        I see people everywhere expecting Hispanic leaders to take care of Latinos (but eff everyone else), and the same expectation of solidarity can be seen with black leaders and their constituents. Maybe the whole attitude of racial solidarity is the root of this problem.

  15. William
    March 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I’ve always wondered if the demographics of the various government agencys’ staffing tends to favor one group over another. Would analysis show if a member of a minority group who works in the Housing Authority gives preferential treatment to like members of that group over others?

    I don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. The system is obviously not working as designed. If the staff has it’s thumb on the scale, you might have the situation that Parris describes.

    • Kyle
      March 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      My grandmother is Latino and she applied for section 8 and was denied. She only makes $500 a month at the most and the place she used to work for sent her a letter about cutting her retirement benefits. Yet whenever I go down the street from her apartment I always see a very overweight black women and her kids living in a new house and there are always at least 15 people there. This woman told the neighbors that she is on section 8 and the word finally got back to my grandmothers apartment complex where everyone is talking about it.

      • William
        March 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

        I have a friend in Modesto on disability who couldn’t get on a Section 8 waiting list but there are people here in the AV in 5 bedroom, 3 bath homes with pools. It’s a federal program yet some areas get squat while other areas such as LA County get to put up people in large upscale homes. There is something fishy going on.

  16. Deena
    March 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you R. Rex Parris for looking out for the hard working, law abiding, tax paying citizens of Lancaster! If anything this lawsuit will cause some changes to the way Section 8 is handled. Mr Parris is the first mayor to tackle this blight on our city! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you R. Rex!

    • Stinger
      March 15, 2012 at 3:58 am

      Wow… They really spiked the koolaid for this one, didn’t they?

      Cha-ching. Who’s in your wallet?

      • Deena
        March 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm

        I guess you’ve never lived next door to a Section 8 recipient….unless you are a Section 8 recipient. Why would you have a problem with it? R Rex is the first mayor we’ve had that was willing to fight for us law-abiding, tax-paying, hard-working citizens…unless you aren’t one. Hmmm…..

        • Mercedes Medrano
          March 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

          The problem Deena is the lawsuits alone cost Lancaster over half a million dollars tax and HUD has just gotten started. Wait until the feds show up at city hall for the documents your friend Rex is afraid to give up. That is why the little big man went to Washington to beg forgiveness and try to worm his way out of the tough spot he put us in. In the meantime we pay for his stupidity.

        • Stinger
          March 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

          Typical Parrisite response: If you don’t agree 100% with der fuhrer Parris, then you are automatically not one of the “law-abiding, tax-paying, hard-working citizens.”

          Parris is a bigger problem than any section 8 issue. Before Parris, we had enhanced enforcement on Section 8 and no lawsuits about it. Parris comes in and does nothing but screw things up and cause lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit (ad nauseum). Your lord and master is destroying all of the hard work that has been done to enhance our safety over the last 10 years and costing us millions of dollars to cover his egomania.

  17. Stinger
    March 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Well, well, well. I guess that Parris didn’t get his way in Washington and is trying to cover up his malfeasance(s) here in the AV by filing a clearly bogus complaint against the agency investigating Parris and his cronies.

    This is a classic strategy attempt that is a last resort of the guilty because it very frequently fails utterly.

    Can you feel those handcuffs biting into your wrists, yet, Rexy?

    • Jason
      March 15, 2012 at 9:18 am

      Last resort of the guilty? The suit brings up valid points. Why does the AV have a disproportionate number of Section 8 residents compared to other areas? Why are the majority of those on Section 8 black? Why dont they enforce the program like they should be doing? Its a program that started out with the right reasons in mind but over the years due to lax oversight has become a huge problem and needs to be fixed.

      • Scott Pelka
        March 15, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        There is a very easy explanation why we have more section 8 residents here is because of the low price of housing and the opportunity owners of those houses getting a guarantee check every month for rent. That money both comes from the renter and the feds. If you owned a home and were going to get a check every month from the govt. that would pay your mortgage on that piece of property I am sure most would do it.

        • Jason
          March 15, 2012 at 6:07 pm

          It definitely has to do with opportunistic owners. Some were investors, some were ones that got in over there head buying houses they couldnt afford. There needs to be limits on what kind of houses that Sec. 8 will pay for. I get up and go to work every day busting my ass for a pay check and I cant live in some of these houses being rented out with Sec. 8 vouchers.

          In all honesty how do they expect people to pick themselves up and better themselves when they can live near rent free in houses most working people would kill to live in? Its a program that needs a serious top to bottom overhaul.

          • M. Jimenez
            March 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm

            Why hasnt anyone in the upper branches of the government looked at this? Like Buck McKeon or Barbara Boxer? This is one of the most wasteful and corrupted programs ever invented!

  18. Vicki e
    March 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    What about the caucausion, people my daughter has been on the list for years..

    • common sense
      March 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

      And during those “years” her situation hasn’t improved..she hasn’t found a job or a way to pay her own rent? Any kids? Why keep having kids if you can’t pay for them? If so, where is the father? Does he work? This program was meant to be a temporary hand up, not a way of life.

  19. Palmdale_Steve
    March 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    And the beat goes on.

Comments are closed.