Section 8 Lawsuit Year-End Update


In 2020, NAACP San Diego continues fighting racial segregation through its lawsuit against San Diego Housing Commission. 

The lawsuit challenges SDHC’s discriminatory and segregationist policy of setting the Section 8 voucher levels prohibitively low in predominantly white neighborhoods. SDHC’s policy effectively steers families with Section 8 – disproportionately racial minorities – to segregated, high poverty neighborhoods with lower performing schools and fewer employment opportunities.

SDHC initially responded to the lawsuit with a claim that its setting of payment standards is “protected activity” made in furtherance of SDHC’s “right of free speech or petition.” SDHC, which is a government entity, claimed that if NAACP San Diego’s lawsuit was allowed to move forward, it would “chill” SDHC’s “valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition.” 

In its initial response, SDHC also alleged that the lawsuit was not brought “solely in the public interest” because the relief the lawsuit seeks – to enjoin SDHC from perpetuating racial segregation – will not benefit the public but will benefit only non-white Section 8 recipients. SDHC’s position reflected a disturbing misunderstanding of how segregation adversely impacts all members of the community, not just racial minorities. SDHC’s position also reflected a flagrant misunderstanding of how its own program works since the relief sought will benefit all voucher recipients, not only racial minorities.

In addition, in its initial response, SDHC claimed that its CEO’s repeated use of “social engineering” to derisively describe an Obama-era desegregation policy could not be used in the lawsuit to show discriminatory intent. SDHC claimed that its CEO’s statements were protected speech. 

In November, the court held a hearing on SDHC’s free speech defense and a demurrer it had filed. The court rejected SDHC’s free speech arguments, finding that NAACP San Diego’s lawsuit is brought in the public interest, and the statute protecting free speech does not apply to SDHC’s actions. The Court also rejected the vast majority of SDHC’s arguments regarding whether the lawsuit could move forward based on state and federal fair housing and civil rights law. The Court gave NAACP San Diego the opportunity to include additional facts (data) regarding how SDHC’s policy disproportionately adversely impacts racial minorities. NAACP San Diego immediately requested the data from SDHC, but SDHC is still refusing to provide its data.

November 21st, 2019 Executive Committee Meeting

The Executive Committee will meet at 6pm, November 21, 2019, in Room 347 of the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, 404 Euclid Avenue.

Executive Committee meetings are public meetings, and anyone may attend. Only Executive Committee members may participate, however.

You may view the interactive meeting packet online.

Or, if you prefer to download the entire packet, you may. Please note that it will likely change before the meeting.

November 1st Section 8 Lawsuit Hearing

As you know, the NAACP San Diego Branch is involved in a lawsuit to fight the San Diego Housing Commission’s discriminatory and segregationist practice of setting Section 8 voucher levels too low to allow access to all areas of our city.

There will be a hearing on November 1st at 9:00 a.m. in Department 66 at 330 W. Broadway (the Hall of Justice). Please attend and show that the public supports our cause! The Court will be hearing SDHC’s claim that its setting of payment standards is “protected activity” made in furtherance of SDHC’s “right of free speech or petition.” SDHC, which is a government entity, has alleged that if this lawsuit is allowed to move forward, it will “chill” SDHC’s “valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition.”

The Court will also be hearing SDHC’s allegation that this lawsuit was not brought “solely in the public interest” because the relief we seek – to enjoin SDHC from perpetuating racial segregation – will not benefit the public but will benefit only non-white Section 8 recipients. SDHC’s position reflects a disturbing misunderstanding of how segregation adversely impacts all members of the community, not just racial minorities. SDHC’s position also reflects a flagrant misunderstanding of how its own program works since the relief we seek will benefit all voucher recipients, not only racial minorities. 

In addition, the Court will be hearing SDHC’s request to have the case dismissed, and SDHC’s claim that its CEO’s repeated use of “social engineering” to describe an Obama-era desegregation policy cannot be used in the lawsuit to show discriminatory intent.

We were also joined by our Assistant Treasurer, Wanda Rogers and NAACP members Abdul Waliullah Muhammad and Bro. Charles 3X, as well as at least one Section 8 client. 

The Court has directed the San Diego Housing Commission to share the documents we have been requesting for four months now and that is a win, the Housing Commission is not allowed to withhold this evidence and we feel this evidence will further demonstrate the extent to which the Section 8 payment standards perpetuate racial segregation. 

Overall, we had some gains and some setbacks, but we are still moving forward. There is a lot of information that the Commission has not given us that we need for our case and the judge  authorized us to get as least some of it from the Commission. We will be doing that as well as working to get everything we need to prevail in this case. Our extraordinary attorneys, Paraja Ijadi-Maghsoodi, Bryan Pease and James Crosby are putting in incredible hours and doing an incredible job for the people and for the NAACP. 

This will be a long case but we are in it to win it. We will keep you posted on developments. It appears clear that we will need to go beyond the courtroom to other methods of persuasion to achieve our goal of equity in housing in San Diego. Stay tuned.  Thanks to those who came out and supported us in the courtroom. 

Press Conference Calling for an End to Restrictive Zoning

Recently the NAACP San Diego Branch participated in a press conference and comment at the City of San Diego Land-Use and Housing Committee. The goal of the press conference was to ask for an end to restrictive zoning, so that we can build more multi-family housing to address our housing crisis. Please follow these links to learn more about what happened:

10 News:  https://www.10news.com/news/local-news/group-claims-zoning-enables-housing-segregation

KUSI:  https://www.kusi.com/advocates-urge-end-to-zoning-that-they-say-causes-housing-segregation/

San Diego Union Tribune:  https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/growth-development/story/2019-10-09/coalition-calls-for-an-end-to-zoning-restrictions-that-prevent-multi-unit-housing

San Diego County Board of Supervisors

We were recently approached by Supervisor Cox, who wanted to honor the Branch on its 100th Anniversary. At our October 3rd General Membership Meeting, we voted to decline the honor, due to longstanding issues with the Board of Supervisors treatment of African-Americans and other people of color, including the essentially broken CLERB, the resolution opposing AB-392, their failure to adequately address the housing crisis and other issues of interest to our Membership.

We plan instead to present a letter to the Board, outlining our complaints over their actions and policies.

However, we are aware that only a small part of our Membership is able to attend the General Membership Meetings, and we want to give everyone an opportunity to make their concerns known or give us feedback on the letter.

So, please, if you have input on what we should tell the supervisors, let us know by sending us an email!

September 13th Section 8 Lawsuit Hearing

Bryan Pease, Carol Spong, Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi and Clovis Honoré

Our President joined our Housing Chair, Carol Spong at the hearing on September 13th regarding our lawsuit against the San Diego Housing Commission, alleging that the way the Commission sets Section 8 voucher values, and its impact on people of color and low-income San Diego Residents, should be changed to be more equitable.

We were also joined by our Assistant Treasurer, Wanda Rogers and NAACP members Abdul Waliullah Muhammad and Bro. Charles 3X, as well as at least one Section 8 client. 

The Court has directed the San Diego Housing Commission to share the documents we have been requesting for four months now and that is a win, the Housing Commission is not allowed to withhold this evidence and we feel this evidence will further demonstrate the extent to which the Section 8 payment standards perpetuate racial segregation. 

Overall, we had some gains and some setbacks, but we are still moving forward. There is a lot of information that the Commission has not given us that we need for our case and the judge  authorized us to get as least some of it from the Commission. We will be doing that as well as working to get everything we need to prevail in this case. Our extraordinary attorneys, Paraja Ijadi-Maghsoodi, Bryan Pease and James Crosby are putting in incredible hours and doing an incredible job for the people and for the NAACP. 

This will be a long case but we are in it to win it. We will keep you posted on developments. It appears clear that we will need to go beyond the courtroom to other methods of persuasion to achieve our goal of equity in housing in San Diego. Stay tuned.  Thanks to those who came out and supported us in the courtroom.