HEARTLESS EVICTIONS-Billionaire and former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has found himself front and center in a controversy over his eviction of veterans and low-income families who are receiving government subsidies and vouchers.
Earlier this year, Sterling purchased two buildings on Elden Avenue in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown. In July, Sterling, who has a history of discriminatory practices, served tenants with an illegal 30-day eviction notice.
A majority of the families living on the two properties receive Section 8 rental subsidies from the government and the veterans receive assistance through the Veterans Affairs supportive housing program also known as “VASH,” whose mission is to keep vulnerable and disabled veterans from being homeless.
After seeing this story break on KNBC,Larry Gross, Director of the grassroots tenants’ rights organization Coalition for Economic Survival, along with the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, the Los Angeles Housing Authority and a downtown Los Angeles law firm, worked together to successfully block Sterling’s move to evict tenants receiving Section 8 vouchers from his buildings.
According to Gross, it’s an uphill battle but he’s been at war with Donald Sterling before he’s not afraid of this fight. Gross stated, “Elected officials from the mayor to the City Council have made a commitment and a priority to ensure getting homeless and particularly homeless veterans off the street into affordable housing. These were veterans who prior to living in this building were homeless and they finally got a roof over their head and this billionaire landlord notorious for discriminating against tenants of color, was trying to push them back out onto the street but we were able to stop that! …It’s not the first time with Sterling and I assume it won’t be the last time…this guy has to continuously be held accountable for his illegal practices.”
For now, all tenants receiving government vouchers will not be evicted. According to a statement from Sterling’s attorney, they are “backing off but plan to investigate the issue of further.” As of today, the tenants are safe, but their housing future is still in limbo.
(Adrienne Nicole Edwards is a community activist and a member of the NC Budget Advocate Committee. Charlie Williamson contributed to this story.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.