The decision, which has a national impact, specially provides Section 8 tenants living at Morton Gardens Apartments in Echo Park protection against their landlord's attempt to evict them.
This victory is the direct result of the tireless work and deep commitment of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Attorney Christian Abasto, Attorney Jim Grow, the nationally acclaimed subsidized housing legal expert with the Oakland-based National Housing Law Project and Attorney Michael Soloff, a partner in the powerful downtown law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, who brilliantly argued the case before the 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals on March 2, 2009.
City of LA and HUD Lent Support
CES' Long Efforts to Stop Evictions & Preserve This Affordable Housing
For more than the last 20 years, CES has been assisting these tenants' efforts to fight off evictions. Morton Gardens was developed in 1971 as a low-income rental housing project through a HUD subsidized mortgage-secured low interest loan program.
Morton Garden apartments is a 66-unit building which is situated just over a hill from Dodger Stadium in Echo Park.
In 1998 the prior owners prepaid the subsidized loan in advance of the original loan maturity date, thus removing the federal rent restrictions. As a result, tenants in residence received "enhanced" Section 8 rent subsidy vouchers, which entitled them the right to remain in their units, paying the same rent and requiring landlords to accept these vouchers as long as the tenants decide to stay and Congress provides the funding. In addition, other tenants holding regular Section 8 vouchers have since moved in.
In 2003, the City and the tenants had obtained an earlier ruling from the 9th Circuit Court that upheld the application of the City's rent control law to the units, rejecting the owner's claim that federal law "preempted" local rent protections.
The Morton Garden case involves two related, but distinct, federal tenant-based housing subsidies: "enhanced Section 8 vouchers" and regular Section 8 "housing choice vouchers."
The landlord was challenging the Congressionally enacted right to remain for the enhanced voucher holders, as well as the applicability of the city's just cause eviction law, which protects Section 8 tenants living in rent controlled units. Tenant attorneys citywide have been defending tenants against a wave of 90-day Section 8 termination notices, arguing that a Section 8 contract cannot be terminated until there is a vacancy and there needs to be a "just cause" reason under the rent control law to evict a tenant to secure a vacancy.
In 2007, tenants, outraged by eviction notices they received, rode a school bus to UCLA to protest outside his class. They held signs, chanted and then presented Sussman with a ceramic piggy bank, an award as the "Greediest Landlord in L.A."
To Read the landmark 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals Decision that Protects Section 8 Tenants From Evictions and Finds that HUD regulations don't preempt local Rent Control Laws
CES member Dulce Pena (in photo), who lives at the Morton Gardens Apartments in Echo Park, hands UCLA Real Estate Professor Eric Sussman, her landlord, a ceramic pig award for the city's greediest landlord as Morton Garden children look on. On May 17, 2007, Morton Gardens tenants and supporters traveled to UCLA to confront their landlord outside his classroom. Tenants wore CES bright red T-shirts and hoisted signs telling Sussman he should be ashamed. In addition to presenting Sussman the piggy bank, they handed UCLA officials that were present a letter asking UCLA's chancellor to review Sussman's business practices.
COALITION for ECONOMIC SURVIVAL (CES)