LANCASTER – As The AV Times reported Monday, the NAACP has formally withdrawn a housing discrimination complaint against Lancaster, which alleged a pattern of harassment by city leaders against black and Latino residents on the Section 8 program.
In accordance with the withdrawal, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has terminated its investigation and closed the complaint.
Sounding off to reporters at an unrelated press conference Tuesday, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said the NAACP was duped into filing the complaint by community activists seeking publicity.
“Darren Parker, Emmett Murrell and Jesse Smith just wanted to see their name in the paper, and it cost the tax payers millions of dollars,” Parris said. “I think they duped the NAACP, and I think the NAACP is now in a situation of trying to save face.”
“I’m waiting for an apology,” Parris continued. “They spent millions of dollars investigating something that they didn’t even have a victim for.”
The housing discrimination complaint is separate from the fair housing lawsuit, brought forward by the NAACP, The Community Action League (TCAL) and three Section 8 tenants.
That fair housing lawsuit, which was filed in June 2011 against the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, 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. Read the entire complaint.
Parris said the lawsuit is without merit and he intends to fight it to the very end.
“We are not caving in to extortion,” he said. “For poor people, the City of Lancaster is doing more innovative projects than anybody in the country… Why aren’t they helping us? Where are these high and mighty NAACP executives?”
Parris said he would like to see community activists supporting the city’s Wellness and Neighborhood Impact homes.
“I don’t think that’s what they are about,” he said. “I think they’re about their own self-aggrandizement, because they have not lifted a finger to help us.”
Local representatives said the NAACP would be releasing a statement concerning its decision to withdraw the housing discrimination complaint.
That statement was not immediately available Tuesday evening.
Public Counsel, the law firm representing the NAACP in the ongoing fair housing lawsuit, released a video recently profiling one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The video also explains the law firm’s decision to file the lawsuit. View the video below.
WARNING: The video contains language that may be considered offensive.