Supervisors vote to settle final Antelope Valley discrimination case

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday in a closed-door meeting to approve the final piece of a settlement over allegations of racial discrimination in county-administered low-income housing programs in the Antelope Valley.

Details of the settlement between the county, its housing authority and the U.S. Department of Justice have not yet been made public.

The county reached a separate settlement in April with federal authorities over allegations of racial profiling by the Sheriff's Department in the Antelope Valley. Under that agreement, the county was required to put in place new rules that require deputies to be more courteous in their interactions with Antelope Valley residents.

The county also agreed to set aside $700,000 to pay victims of racial profiling and to track data on stops and searches to determine whether minorities are being unfairly targeted.

The second piece of the settlement will deal with low-income residents who lost their federal Section 8 rent subsidy vouchers as a result of raids by housing officials and sheriff's deputies.

According to a report from the closed session, the board authorized a monetary settlement -- the amount of which has not been disclosed -- by a 4-0 vote. Supervisor Don Knabe was absent. 

They also authorized a settlement on other "remedial measures" by a vote of 3-1. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the Antelope Valley, cast the dissenting vote.

Antonovich declined to comment through a spokesman, saying the county's attorneys had advised against it.

The Justice Department announced findings of its two-year investigation in the Antelope Valley in 2013, saying that sheriff's deputies and housing investigators had harassed and intimidated racial minorities.

Separately, activists in the Antelope Valley had filed a lawsuit against the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale in 2011 alleging discriminatory practices. That suit was later settled.

Antonio Hicks, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, which represented plaintiffs in that case, said he expects that as a result of the new county settlement with federal officials, some residents will have a chance to get their housing benefits reinstated.

"Our hope was that we were going to see a large-scale reissuance of vouchers to families who had been discriminated against," he said. "I'm not terribly optimistic, based on discussions we've had with the DOJ, that that is going to happen."

But Hicks said he is hopeful that the settlement will include setting up a mechanism under which some people will be able to have their cases re-heard, and that there will be further monetary compensation for some of the residents who lost their vouchers.

Follow Abby Sewell on Twitter at @sewella for more county news.

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