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.