Today, Alliance Housing Management, Inc., defendant in Des Verney vs Alliance Housing Management, sent the ACLU of Southern California a letter saying it will withdraw its requirement that residents of its government-subsidized properties located in Venice, California sign a lease agreement which would hold them responsible for crimes committed by visitors, even if those crimes occur as far as three blocks from the residence. On November 22, the ACLU filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of three low-income tenants of a U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized development in Venice. The tenants faced imminent eviction because they refused to sign the unconstitutional lease agreement. Plaintiffs are residents of Holiday Venice Properties, which include 256 units in fifteen buildings in Venice, California.
The lawsuit charged that the new mandatory lease agreement violates current federal statutes and regulations concerning federally-subsidized housing, is unconstitutionally vague, and violates the Fifth Amendment's guarantees of due process of law and freedom of association.
In September, Holiday Venice Properties residents received the new lease addendum--which Alliance Housing said was required by HUD--that would subject them to "one-strike" evictions if they, or any member of their household, guest or other person under the resident's control, were to "engage in or facilitate criminal activity...within a three block radius of the property."
The letter received today by ACLU attorney Daniel Tokaji and Rocio Cordoba reads:
"After receiving your complaint and letter, and in order to avoid costly and time consuming litigation, Alliance Housing Management, Inc. has decided to withdraw the requirement that the plaintiffs sign the HUD Drug Free Addendum. Your clients will remain tenants based upon the existing lease and no action will be taken against them for not signing I hope that this meets with your approval and the case can now be dismissed. I only wish that we had able to resolve this matter with the ACLU Foundation before the case was filed." (Letter follows)
Dan Tokaji, ACLU staff attorney said, "Ms. Des Verney, Ms. Anderson and Ms. Holmes are law-abiding tenants. They made every effort to resolve the matter amicably without litigation to no avail. We are very pleased that they and their families will be permitted to remain in their homes through the holidays. Let's hope that this case will send a clear message that the Bill of Rights protects everyone. By having the courage to stand up for their rights, these three women have protected the constitutional rights of us all."