Sep 15, 2020
Ms. Lopez-Villafana & Ms. Schroeder
San Diego Union-Tribune
600 B Street, Suite 1201
San Diego, CA 92101
Dear Ms. Lopez-Villafana and Ms. Schroeder,
On behalf of NAACP San Diego Branch, I write to thank you for your excellent reporting on redlining in San Diego. Your reporting is vital. It helps our region understand how our governmental entities sponsored and subsidized segregation.
While we were disappointed that your reporting did not incorporate our organization’s current efforts to stop the perpetuation of segregation in the region’s largest subsidized housing program, we appreciate your reporting. We would be happy to speak with you about our advocacy. Our advocacy centers on the City’s Section 8 program, which includes the neighborhoods identified in your article and impacts 56,000 low-income individuals.
Earlier this year, we expressed to LISC how dismayed we were at LISC’s refusal to include in their draft segregation op-ed, which included NAACP San Diego Branch’s logo, even a reference to the pending litigation on racial segregation. LISC refused to acknowledge the litigation because the CEO of the local governmental entity perpetuating the segregation at issue, San Diego Housing Commission, was on LISC’s board.
Social justice movements will not succeed if the wrongdoings of governmental entities are censored in an effort to appease nonprofit governing boards made up of the very governmental actors committing the wrongful acts.
I hope you continue to shed light on this important issue.
Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch
Up to $4000 per household for rent.
The NAACP San Diego Branch understands what a critical issue housing is. We will be having a meeting at 6pm on Friday, June 26th, to give you an update on our efforts, especially our lawsuit against the San Diego Housing Commission. We will also share ways that you can get involved in both solving San Diego’s housing crisis and ensure that discriminatory housing practices end.
Please join us at sandiegonaacp.org/housing-zoom at 6pm on Friday, June 26th.
For the safety of all attendees, we require the following from participants in our meetings:
- Have a (paid or) free Zoom account and log in to it before attending
- Use a current recognizable photo of their face as the profile picture
- Use their legal first and last names on their profile
For help on setting up zoom, please see sandiegonaacp.org/zoom-setup
June 12, 2020
With almost surgical precision, the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) has implemented policies and practices that perpetuate racial segregation and discriminate against communities of color. SDHC is a prime example of government-sponsored discrimination, racism, and segregation. Yet, SDHC CEO Rick Gentry just issued a statement purporting to stand with communities of color in grieving the loss of George Floyd.
SDHC purports to stand with African Americans and communities of color, yet actively enforces discriminatory policies and practices like steering, that have been unlawful since the civil rights movement.
“It’s abhorrent and extremely opportunistic for SDHC CEO Rick Gentry to release a solidarity statement at a time when we are suing SDHC for perpetuating segregation and racial inequality. Gentry’s claim that SDHC provides families ‘opportunities to choose to live in any areas of the City that make the most sense for their families’ is contradicted by SDHC’s own data. Gentry and SDHC have already decided where families should live – in segregated neighborhoods,” says Rafael Bautista, San Diego Tenants Union.
A pending lawsuit against SDHC filed by NAACP San Diego Branch and San Diego Tenant Union uses SDHC’s own data, policies, and statements to illustrate how SDHC has intentionally discriminates against communities of color and perpetuates racial segregation in violation of federal law, state law, and its own contractual obligations. The lawsuit aims to correct San Diego’s largest subsidized housing program which serves 60,000 low-income women, men, and children.
“An unequal society fosters inequality. SDHC and other governmental entities have unlawfully discriminated against African Americans with impunity for decades. Not only is it unacceptable, it is unlawful. We have sued SDHC for intentionally perpetuating segregated housing patterns. Despite any statements put out by SDHC, SDHC’s own data shows SDHC’s policies and practices disproportionately harm African Americans who are evicted and incarcerated at a far higher rate than white individuals,” says Francine Maxwell, NAACP San Diego.
After SDTU and NAACP San Diego Branch sued SDHC in March 2019, SDHC claimed that Rick Gentry’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. SDHC, which is a government entity, claimed that if the lawsuit was allowed to move forward, it would “chill” SDHC’s “valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition.”
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.
The state court rejected SDHC’s free speech arguments, finding that the lawsuit is brought in the public interest, and the statute protecting free speech does not apply to SDHC’s actions. The Court gave NAACP San Diego and SDTU 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. NAACP San Diego Branch and SDTU filed a second lawsuit against SDHC to obtain the data. That lawsuit is also pending.
The case is currently pending in federal court. 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 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 trying to get a second bite at the apple, which delays the case. NAACP San Diego and SDTU filed a motion to remand, which is pending.
|Francine Maxwell, President|
NAACP San Diego Branch
San Diego Tenant Union
|P.O. Box 152086 • San Diego, CA • 92195|
619-431-1633 • [email protected]
|[email protected] • 619-709-0942|
|Founded in 1919 after a visit by renowned author, activist and NAACP co-founder, W.E.B. DuBois, the NAACP San Diego Branch is celebrating a century of standing sentry over the civil rights of the people of San Diego. If you need more information about the NAACP San Diego Branch, please visit sandiegonaacp.org/presskit||The San Diego Tenants Union is committed to fight displacement and gentrification. We organize tenants to fight against rent hikes and fight for improvements. join us!|
The NAACP San Diego Branch relies on memberships, donations and fundraising for much of our operating budget. We also receive grants from some very generous organizations, including Qualcomm, SDG&E, and the NAACP Local Action Fund.
COVID-19 means there is less money in everyone’s pocket, and fundraising activities are limited. We are actively seeking additional grants, and could really use a grantwriter who would like to donate their skills and time to help us capture some dollars for out Branch.
If you’d like to lend a pen to the cause of Civil Rights in San Diego, please write [email protected].
April 17, 2020
When America catches a cold, black Americans get the flu but when America contracts #ThatRona, black Americans die
PREEXISTING CONDITION: RACISM
It is most certainly not being suggested here that the Corona Virus or any virus for that matter can be racist. No, but we all know very well that policies and governmental structures can be racist. Response times from officials during disaster can be suspiciously slower in black communities and the inability to rely on truthful information from officials can have a grave impact. It’s no secret that these structural disparities act as “preexisting conditions.” When manifested in the form of environmental racism, neighborhoods with majority black and brown people are often treated as dumping centers. This yields higher rates of pollution and lower air quality yielding more cases of conditions like asthma and other respiratory diseases. Black Americans need to to be advised regarding the future that in cities like Beijing, the face mask has long been a mainstay of the daily uniform for blue and white collar folks and all those in-between. Our air quality improvement is stalling, the planet is warming and our neighborhoods have new kinds of criminals – those that come to pollute our air quality. When the masses return to normalcy, protect yourself and your family by keeping the face mask.
DECARCERATION IS PARAMOUNT
Furthermore, jail and prisons which we know are overcrowded and disproportionately housing black and brown inmates need to make strategic efforts towards decarceration to avert disaster. In the words of San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin on the subject of COVID19, “We need to let medical professionals guide public policy.” Allowing health professionals to lead us at this time is of the utmost importance. Not only are they held to a higher standard of non-bias, they understand systems of infectious disease. The air quality in our communities is not the only area we experience vulnerability, allowing jail and prison medical staff to achieve proper social distancing for those incarcerated is an area that needs a closer look as well. In response to the conditions at Otay Mesa Detention Center, Senator Kamala Harris remarked on 04/12/2020 that “The horrifying conditions at Otay Mesa Detention Center are unacceptable. Every day that officials continue to lock up low-risk and vulnerable people is another day that people in U.S. custody along with countless facility and court personnel, legal representatives, witnesses, and family members are put at risk of a preventable death from a deadly virus.”
HOW TO STRATEGICALLY DECARCERATE
The method for decarceration is simple: allow medical staff advise us of the acceptable number to achieve proper social distancing. Next consider release of the inmates that fall into the following categories: those with misdemeanors, the elderly, those conserved waiting for placement in a mental health facility (a reminder that our jails are inappropriately serving those in need of behavioral health services), those unable to pay certain bail amounts, veterans, those already sentenced with upcoming release dates, and those with simply technical parole or probation violations. Identifying those inmates for immediate or expedited release means analyzing the population and intentionally choosing to take measures to save lives. A failure to do so means blatantly disregarding an overwhelming majority of specifically black and brown potential deaths.
TO DO LIST
When the COVID-19 war is over, black people will have an extended recovery timeline, similar to the AIDS epidemic (still claiming many lives in the black plurality of the ATL), the glacial response times during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (also a black plurality), and other calamities long before this COVID19 pandemic. Once mass media coverage dissipates our communities will still be impacted, everyone else will be healing and “getting back to normal” while black Americans continue playing catch up. The post traumatic stress coupled with the preexisting financial and health disparities will have many implications for Black Americans’ mental health and pocketbooks. But stay awake, when the focus shifts in the media, that is the time to work even harder to be well and serve as a leader in the community by putting wellness and the sharing of resources at the forefront all we do. We can take the liberty of expecting that the long-term effects of this virus will have a disproportionately negative impact on Black Americans compared to other groups. When we started this race, the gun went off for us a few HUNDRED years after everyone else started playing. So wear your masks and only use digital means to contact the elderly. If you’re out of work take note of quarantine-proof jobs and use this time to develop new skills, write letters to the jails and prison officials asking for “decarceration” to save lives and properly achieve social distancing. Finally, if you’re one of those fortunate to still be gainfully employed during this time with a job that has you away from home, don’t fidget with the mask, try not to touch your face, greet people with a bow or an elbow (I loathe the fist bump, because you’re still using your hands), sanitize the moment you enter your home and embrace what Roddy Rich says about no shoes in the house!
American Epidemiologist Camara Jones asserts that racism is a system that does two things: structures opportunities and assigns value on so-called race; and is the social interpretation of how one looks in a race conscious society. The structure of the systems have already deemed black and brown value inferior to others. So Black Americans should indeed ask, are we really in this together if we are not all in the same boat?
CUT FROM A DIFFERENT CLOTH
In the words of the Reverend Al Sharpton, “If we can survive chattel slavery, if we can survive Jim Crow, we can survive this Corona Virus.”
Chair, Health Committee
NAACP San Diego Branch
April 9, 2020
Re: Judicial Council Gets it Right, City Gets it Wrong
These are critical times for housing in our city. Adding COVID-19 onto an already untenable housing market is like pouring gasoline on a fire. We are grateful to the Judicial Council for providing some relief to tenants, however temporary, but we are aghast that the City’s “solution” to COVID-19 among the homeless is to pack them into the Convention Center.
Legal Assistance for Evictions and Housing Issues During COVID-19
NAACP San Diego Branch is grateful that the Judicial Council has stepped in to protect vulnerable renters in the San Diego region and the rest of the state. Elected officials in the San Diego region have failed to enact eviction-based ordinances that protect renters, and have enacted poorly written ordinances that unjustly burden tenants – the very people the ordinances should be protecting.
On Monday, the Judicial Council stepped in to delay all eviction cases from moving forward, not just those related to people not being able to pay rent due to the virus.
As described in this article, https://apnews.com/3945cb51331a801b658d4202504334e5, the order is much needed. “This is the type of straightforward, broad protection that we have been wanting to see from our leaders to give people comfort while we address the massive economic impacts of this crisis,” said Sasha Harnden, housing policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
If you are in the County of San Diego and need free legal assistance pertaining to housing issues, including rent increases and evictions, contact Legal Aid Society of San Diego which receives government funding to provide legal assistance to low-income individuals. https://www.lassd.org/
If you are not eligible for Legal Aid Society of San Diego, you may be eligible for free legal assistance through San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program,https://www.sdvlp.org, or Disability Rights California, https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/.
If you have received an eviction notice, rent increase notice, or have a housing related issue – do not delay. Seek legal advice today!
Use of Emergency Funds for Directing Unhoused Residents to the Convention Center
NAACP San Diego Branch is dismayed by actions taken by local elected leaders to direct hundreds of unhoused San Diego-region residents to a congregate setting – the Convention Center – during the COVID-19 crisis.
These actions are inconsistent with COVID-19 mitigation efforts, social distancing directives, and the Governor’s order to utilize hotel/motel rooms to accommodate at-risk unhoused individuals and families.
In addition to endangering the lives of our most vulnerable residents and the greater public, these actions are questionable financially. Local elected officials seem to be directing millions of dollars in state funds to the city’s own Convention Center instead of motels and hotels, to benefit itself while putting in danger the very population the funding is intended to assist.
In stark contrast to our local elected official’s actions, here is Governor Newsom’s recommended protocols for people experiencing homelessness:https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/COVID-19/flowchart-COVID19-homelessness.pdf
Here is a recent article on the City Council’s actions on Tuesday directing $3.7 million in state emergency funds to its own Convention Center: https://www.kusi.com/san-diego-city-council-approves-3-7-million-state-grant-for-homeless-covid-19-safety/
Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch
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.