Los Angeles, Calif. – The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) have reached the first settlements in a major lawsuit against 22 properties accused of unlawful discrimination against tenants receiving Section 8 vouchers.
Settlements were reached with the owners of multi-family rental properties at 3623 Keystone Avenue and 10779 Woodbine Street in the City of Los Angeles.
The owners agreed to take steps to counteract the impacts of Section 8 discrimination at their properties and to increase transparency of their rental practices. They will develop and implement a fair housing policy prohibiting discrimination based on source of income; require fair housing training for all staff; include the phrases “Section 8 welcome” or “We accept Section 8” in all advertisements for open units for the next three years; and collect and report rental data to DREDF on a quarterly basis, including:
- The total number of rental applications received;
- The total number of rental applications received by Section 8 recipients;
- The number of Section 8 recipients rented to;
- For each applicant receiving Section 8 not rented to, the reason(s) their application was rejected.
The settlement also includes a payment of $35,000 to the plaintiff, Robert Gardner, a Section 8 recipient who alleged his application was rejected unfairly. The parties have asked the Court to retain jurisdiction over the settlement for three years.
Similar settlements are on the horizon with a number of other properties.
“We appreciate the owners who have sought out counsel and immediately taken steps to correct their illegal practices,” said Michelle Uzeta, Senior Counsel at DREDF. “We want this case to be both a deterrent to properties that continue to discriminate based on source of income, and a model for similar cases.”
“In Los Angeles, thousands of tenants like Robert are waiting to receive a voucher to help them afford decent housing,” said LAFLA attorney Manuel Villagomez. “We want to make sure that when their turn finally comes, they can get full use of this benefit—not be locked out by discrimination.”
Mr. Gardner added, “I don’t want other Section 8 participants to have to go through what I went through to secure housing. I want my case to make a difference.”
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Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), based in Berkeley, California, is a national nonprofit law and policy center dedicated to advancing and protecting the civil and human rights of people with disabilities. Founded in 1979 by people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities, DREDF remains board- and staff-led by members of the communities for whom we advocate. DREDF pursues its mission through education, advocacy, and law reform efforts, and is committed to increasing accessible and equally effective healthcare for people with disabilities. DREDF supports legal protections for all diversity and minority communities, including the intersectional interests of people within those communities who also have disabilities.
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is a nonprofit law firm that seeks to achieve equal justice for people living in poverty across Greater Los Angeles. For over 90 years, LAFLA has been changing lives through direct representation, systems change, and community empowerment. Every year, LAFLA provides free, high-quality legal services to more than 100,000 people—leveling the playing field and ensuring that everyone can access the legal system. Our unique combination of neighborhood offices, self-help centers at courthouses, and domestic violence clinics puts LAFLA on the front lines in vulnerable communities, and at the forefront of change.