For years, families in the Antelope Valley participating in the Section 8 program watched with fear as their community turned against them, as their city leaders instituted policies that stripped them of their rights, as the very program designed by the federal government to help them was used to push them out of their neighborhood and their home.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, is meant to encourage economic and racial integration and to enable the historic victims of discrimination to live in communities of their own choosing. But families taking their vouchers to Lancaster and Palmdale were victims of constant, unbearable harassment at the hands of housing authority investigators, sheriff’s deputies and local politicians who incited neighbors against the families.

“Lancaster and Palmdale’s actions had forced Section 8 participants to choose between a better life for their families and freedom from unrelenting hostility,” said Neal Dudovitz, Executive Director of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. “Residents lived in fear because the cities perpetuated a culture of hate and discrimination that’s reflected in their policies and practices.”

Earlier this year, Neighborhood Legal Services and its partners secured unprecedented protections for Section 8 participants across the County, preventing individual municipalities from targeting black and Latino families using the federal housing subsidies and effectively ending years of discrimination for black and Latino Section 8 participants living in the Antelope Valley area.

“NLSLA’s contribution to the community is immense,” said Emmett Murrrell (pictured), an Antelope Valley Minister and community activist. “They empower the community and make people realize they can fight the ‘powers that be.’”

– Emmett Murrell (pictured), Minister, Antelope Valley