US government joins lawsuit against LA over disabled housing

(Credit: Getty)

The federal government is joining a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles that alleges the city made false promises to secure hundreds of millions in federal funding for providing sufficient housing for people with disabilities.

It alleges that L.A. made a commitment to make a certain percentage of the housing accessible to the disabled but failed to deliver on that commitment.

The U.S. attorney’s office joins the lawsuit six years after it was initially filed by the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley and nearly a year after the city reached a $200 million settlement with three other nonprofit groups over the same issues, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“While people with disabilities struggled to find accessible housing, the city and its agents denied them equal access to housing while falsely certifying the availability of such housing to keep the dollars flowing,” acting U.S. Atty. Sandra Brown said in a statement to the Times Wednesday.

Many of the projects financed with the federal dollars did not even have doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, according to the plaintiffs.

Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for L.A. city attorney, called the Trump administration’s lawsuit “an abuse of power” and said it would only serve to divert funds away from Los Angeles during a housing crisis.

“The [Trump] administration’s lawsuit seeks to divert tens of millions more from L.A. taxpayers to the federal treasury — without housing a single person,” he said.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said prosecutors have been investigating the matter for five years. The amount of potential damages was not clear.  [LAT]Cathaleen Chen