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California

Residents of L.A. housing projects may get $3.3-million settlement

A federal judge Thursday gave initial approval to a $3.3-million settlement of a suit brought by public housing residents alleging the city’s Housing Authority illegally charged them for trash collection.

The suit, filed by the Western Center on Law & Poverty, alleged that the Los Angeles Housing Authority shortchanged 9,000 current and former residents of public housing projects by charging them for trash pickup on top of rent.

Under law, trash collection is supposed to be included in rent calculations, Western Center attorneys argued. On average, tenants paid $24 for trash collection each month.

“Metro Los Angeles is the country’s least affordable rental housing market,” said Navneet Grewal, a senior attorney for the poverty law firm. “This settlement will help public housing residents meet expenses and keep their housing.”

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Plaintiffs will receive “hundreds of dollars” each in the class-action suit, Robert Newman, another Western Center attorney estimated. Federal District Judge George H. Wu will decide whether to give final approval to the settlement in February.

Rob Wilcox, spokesman for the city attorney’s office, did not immediately comment.

The overcharges allegedly occurred between March 2008 and February 2012. Housing Authority officials have changed how they charge for trash and have sought a lower-cost trash collection vendor.

Follow me on Twitter at @csaillant2

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