Hesperia, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department sued for allegedly using ordinance to evict black, Latino renters

HESPERIA, Calif. (KABC) -- The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the city of Hesperia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, alleging discrimination against black and Latino renters.

The lawsuit announced Monday takes aim at a city ordinance to address what one city councilmember called a "demographical problem."

The lawsuit claims Hesperia required landlords to evict tenants who had allegedly committed crimes, and the sheriff's department helped enforce the Crime Free Rental Housing ordinance.

That ordinance resulted in the evictions of "numerous" African American and Latino renters from January 2016 to July 2017, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

"The Fair Housing Act prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances intended to push out African American and Latino renters because of their race and national origin, or from enforcing their ordinances in a discriminatory manner," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in the news release. "The United States Department of Justice will continue zealously to enforce the Fair Housing Act against anyone and any organization or institution that violates the law's protections against race, national origin, and other forms of unlawful discrimination."

The law was later revised to make the program voluntary.

The city and sheriff's department say they plan to vigorously defend themselves in court.
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