HRC Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Camarillo Apartment Owner

Monday, November 27, 2017

Federal Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Camarillo Apartment Owner
Lawsuit Alleges Housing Discrimination Based on National Origin and Perceived Immigration Status for Attempting to Evict Long-Term Tenant With No Social Security Number
 
 
LOS ANGELES, CA- A mother of two children and the Housing Rights Center filed a housing discrimination lawsuit yesterday in federal court against a Camarillo apartment owner, Villa Caprice L.P., and the resident manager, for attempting to evict a mother and her two sons from their home of nine years because they lack a valid Social Security number. 
 
The apartment owner screened the family's rental application and decided to rent to them nine years ago. Since that time, the family paid the rent on time and complied with all other requirements for tenants in their building.  The mother was understandably shocked and upset when after all of these years, the manager told her family that they would have to move out within 30 days unless she provided a valid Social Security number.
 
The family also alleges in its lawsuit that the apartment owner and manager discriminated against them based on their familial status by implementing a 10:00 p.m. curfew for children under age 18, and requiring that children under the age of 14 be supervised in the common areas.  Apartment rules including curfews and constant supervision of children have been found to violate fair housing laws for imposing stricter rules on children than on adults. Defendants also enacted overly restrictive occupancy limitations that restricted the number of persons who can reside in an apartment. Limiting the number of occupants to an amount less than what the unit can safely accommodate is a violation of Fair Housing laws because while not discriminatory on its face, it results in a discriminatory effect when enforced. In this case, a 2 bedroom unit with sufficient square footage to accommodate a family of 5 had an occupancy limit of 4 people.   This rule has a disparate impact on families with children because they were the group that would most likely be adversely affected by such a policy.
 
The lawsuit alleges violations of federal and state civil rights laws based on national origin, family status, ancestry, and perceived immigration status. This is believed to be one of the first housing-related lawsuits brought under a 2015 amendment to the state Unruh Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination in housing and public accommodations based on immigration status, citizenship or primary language.
 
As the Housing Rights Center observes an increase in number of calls regarding discriminatory behavior or harassment by landlords based on national origin or immigration status, it has become starkly clear that an increased effort in spreading awareness of fair housing protections is necessary in bringing an end to these types of practices. Chancela Al-Mansour, Executive Director at the HRC states, “The Housing Rights Center is filing this important lawsuit in response to the horrific nightmare that many families must now endure. The sudden threat of homelessness solely because of one’s country of origin or immigration status is devastating for many hard working families and individuals.”
 
Other examples of housing discrimination include establishing policies or practices that have a greater impact on one particular immigrant group over another. For instance, refusing to rent to one specific group decreases the chances of any immigrants sharing the same national origin to successfully obtain housing – this would be considered illegal discrimination based on national origin. We can also look to screening processes for examples of this type of discrimination. If a landlord will be asking applicants for information to run a credit check, they must ensure they run credit checks on all applicants. If minority applicants are the only group of people being asked for a credit check, this would be in violation of the Fair Housing Act because of the differential treatment based on their belonging to a protected class. Similarly, the requirement of social security numbers of all in-place tenants regardless of the number of years they have lived in the apartment with the goal of evicting immigrant tenants can be a violation of newly passed state fair housing laws.
 
Individuals who believe they are victims of housing discrimination or who have questions about the fair housing laws may contact HRC for more information at 1-800-477-5977 (voice) or
213-201-0867 (TTY).

www.HousingRightsCenter.org

HRC Stands with NFL player Brandon Mebane

Monday, June 26, 2017

In a recent blog post by Brandon Mebane, NFL player for the Los Angeles Chargers, he disclosed his troubling experience facing race discrimination in his search for housing in LA. Mebane explains that despite his, and his fellow black teammates, competitive applications that boasted high credit scores, references, and in some cases, payments in advance, they were denied housing during their search. Denying someone the opportunity to obtain housing based on a personal characteristic, such as race, is a violation of Federal Fair Housing law.

 
The Southern California Housing Rights center (dba Housing Rights Center) established in 1968, is one of the nation's largest non-profit fair housing agencies. The Housing Rights Center (HRC) is appalled that such hateful acts are still happening everyday even in a city as progressive as Los Angeles. HRC has had a long history of representing Black athletes looking for housing in Los Angeles. HRC filed a successful lawsuit representing Lou Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) when he tried to purchase his first home and faced housing discrimination. In 2003, the Housing Rights Center sued NBA LA Clipper's former owner Donald Sterling for discriminating against Black and Latino tenants in his LA Koreatown buildings.

 
The Housing Rights Center offers its assistance to you, NFL players and any person who has been denied housing, steered away from their desired housing choice, harassed by their housing provider or given less favorable terms for their housing on the basis of their race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, immigration status, familial status, disability, marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, income source, genetic information, age, or domestic violence victim status. Even if you don't have proof other than your intuition, we have investigators and other means of determining if illegal discrimination occurred. Please call, visit, or email the Housing Rights Center to report any discrimination.

(800) 477-5977
[email protected]
www.HousingRightsCenter.org

HRC partners with local city agencies to provide information about service and support animals

Monday, November 28, 2016

(LOS ANGELES) — The Housing Rights Center (HRC) continues its fight against housing discrimination by partnering with local city agencies to provide necessary information about service and emotional support/assistance animals.

HRC partnered with the Los Angeles Animal Services and Housing and Community Investment Department to present a six-part series throughout the City of Los Angeles. Over 100 community members attended the presentations, titled “Pets in Rental Housing,” where they were informed of city regulations regarding pets in residential areas, as well as a comprehensive overview of the rights to service and support animals provided to persons with disabilities under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Under the FHA, persons with disabilities are afforded the right to reasonable accommodations or changes in rules/policies in order to allow them to fully use and enjoy their housing. A request for a service or support animal to live in rental housing would be considered a reasonable accommodation. Other examples include waiving an existing “No Pet” policy for tenants with mental or physical disabilities who require an animal for medical purposes, or waiving any additional pet fees that would be required for other tenants. Those interested in requesting an accommodation should be prepared to provide a letter from a doctor, therapist, or social worker confirming their disability and need for a medically necessary animal.

The presentations included examples of prohibited practices under the FHA that could be reported to the Housing Rights Center. Practices such as refusing to rent to a tenant who would require a medically necessary animal or charging additional fees in order to approve a request would be considered unlawful under the FHA. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination is commonly seen throughout communities in Southern California as our numbers continue to show disability discrimination as the most reported type of discrimination. 


HRC fights against unlawful practices in housing by providing free educational programs as well as enforcing federal and state fair housing laws throughout the Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Every year we assist over 20,000 community members with housing related concerns through our free counseling service. Individuals who believe they are victims of housing discrimination or who have questions about the fair housing laws may contact HRC for assistance at 1-800-477-5977 (voice), 213-201-0867 (TTY) or www.HousingRightsCenter.org.

Office locations are handicap accessible.

Veterans with Disabilities

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It is estimated that more than 500,000 U.S. veterans are living with disabilities as a result of service-related injuries and trauma. Many veterans have physical disabilities that interfere with important daily life activities like walking, hearing and seeing. Other veterans face mental health disabilities, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that  limit their ability to perform essential life functions.

Veterans with disabilities have the legal right to obtain housing that is free from discrimination and suited to meet their disability-related needs.

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) makes it illegal for landlords, managers and housing industry professionals to refuse to rent to veterans, provide veterans with different treatment or inferior services, or refuse to make reasonable accommodations (policy changes) or modifications (structural changes) at rental properties in order to allow veterans to fully use and enjoy their housing.

Examples of discrimination include not allowing a veteran with PTSD to have a service dog in a no-pet building, refusing to allow a veteran in a wheelchair to install a ramp leading to their front door, or denying a veteran the right to install flashing lights in place of a doorbell to accommodate a hearing impairment.

Other forms of discrimination include refusing to rent to a veteran because they disclose that they have a mental-health disability, or not accepting Social Security disability benefits or other veterans’ benefits as a valid source of income.

Under the FHA, newly built multifamily dwellings, such as duplexes, triplexes and apartment buildings, must be handicap accessible if their certificate of first occupancy is after March 13, 1991. This means that these properties must have accessible doors, accessible routes to and from the property, accessible common areas, and reinforced walls in bathrooms capable of being modified to suit disability related add-ons.

Veterans who believe they were denied housing or were refused the right to make accommodations and modifications to their housing, should contact the Housing Rights Center (HRC) at (800) 477-5977. HRC can investigate allegations of housing discrimination and help victims of discrimination enforce their fair housing rights.
 

HRC Helps Tenant Come Home for the Holidays

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

In 2015, HRC provided critical services to over 20,000 residents. 

For the Rivera family, HRC's services may have helped save the life of their very ill child.

The Rivera's Los Angeles rent controlled apartment was in poor condition when the family moved in 28 years earlier and had not received any updates since that time.

When their 15 year old son Osvaldo was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he received several rounds of cancer fighting medications and ultimately was able to receive a bone marrow transplant - the combination of which detrimentally impacted his already weakened immune system making him susceptible to more illnesses. 

Due to the apartment's cockroach and rodent infestation, mold, dust, lack of hot water and general dilapidation, Osvaldo's health care provider would not release him from the hospital to return home.

A clinical social worker contacted HRC for assistance requesting a reasonable accommodation to have the owner make necessary repairs to their apartment, based on Osvaldo's disability.

The social worker stated that Osvaldo could not be discharged from the hospital because they would be discharging him to a "tremendously dangerous and life-threatening home environment." 

The property owner refused to make the repairs, even after Osvaldo's doctor confirmed that his severely compromised immune system would be very vulnerable to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, and that an infection of this nature following a bone marrow transplant could be life-threatening.

The owner refused to make the apartment habitable - until HRC got involved.

The owner fixed the habitability issues by replacing the hot water heater, kitchen counter, sink and fixtures, applying fresh paint, re-tiling the floor, sealing holes and windows, and getting rid of the roach and vermin infestation.

Osvaldo was finally released from the hospital, and recently celebrated Christmas at home with his family.