Section 8 Lawsuit April Update

When is the next hearing for NAACP San Diego Branch’s lawsuit against San Diego Housing Commission?

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, the federal court will consider our request to remand the case to state court. The federal court will also consider San Diego Housing Commission’s (SDHC) request to dismiss the state court claims, and SDHC’s request that we provide more detail on the federal and state fair housing claims.   

Why is the case in federal court? (I thought it was in state court.)

As we shared in last month’s update, SDHC removed the case to federal court in January 2020. This was procedurally late (over six months late) and a veiled attempt to re-litigate the same issues that were already decided by the state court judge on November 1, 2019. 

SDHC is trying to get a second bite at the apple, which delays the case. Justice delayed is justice denied, and SDHC is actively trying to delay justice in this case. 

To summarize, SDHC is again trying to exclude as evidence statements SDHC’s CEO Richard Gentry’s made referring to an Obama-era desegregation policy as “social engineering.” SDHC is also trying to dismiss our state-law based claims pertaining to discrimination and the perpetuation of racial segregation. These are all arguments that the state court already rejected. 

What is going on with the separate Public Records Act lawsuit against SDHC?

Over six months ago, we requested 2019 Section 8 data from SDHC through a California Public Records Act request. But we have yet to receive the data. We filed a separate lawsuit in January to compel SDHC to provide this data.

Why is the 2019 data needed?

On November 1, 2019, the state court held a hearing on SDHC’s request that the court dismiss the case and SDHC’s argument that its actions were protected as free speech. 

The court reviewed our briefs, evidence, and expert declarations, and heard oral argument by our attorneys. The court ruled and issued an order. The Court gave us the opportunity to allege additional information and facts, including 2019 data, to support our claims. (The court also rejected SDHC’s argument that its discriminatory actions are protected as ‘free speech.’)

The court gave us 10 days to file an amended complaint, but our attorneys asked for more time in order to obtain the 2019 data from SDHC through a Public Records Act request. The judge granted our attorneys’ request for additional time (60 days). Less than a week after the hearing, our attorneys requested the 2019 data from SDHC. Over six months have passed and we have yet to receive the data. 

How can I help as a member of NAACP San Diego?

You can chair the active Housing Committee! There is an opening. 

As the chair, you will receive updates about the lawsuit and related issues from our attorneys, and you will help decide what information would be helpful for fellow members. 

You will also be the first to hear about upcoming hearings and case-related events. While you are under no obligation to attend any hearings or events, you will play a helpful role in receiving information. 

You will also get to help guide the future of the Housing Committee! You have likely heard about the injustices occurring at the city and county level, including the new development with separate rules for low-income individuals and intentional discrimination by a county housing agency employee. 

To be eligible for this role, all you need is passion for civil rights and justice. Apply here.