Southern Californian Latino HIV Center Evicted Two Days After Opening

Last month, Bienestar, a nonprofit offering services to LGBT and HIV-positive Latinos in Southern California, celebrated its grand opening.

Two days later, the group was evicted.

Bienestar opened its Van Nuys center on August 13. The next day, the landlord demanded the group vacate the premises and changed the locks. By August 15, he had terminated their lease because they were “bringing disease” to the building.

“The landlord’s actions are a shocking example of the kind of LGBT and HIV/AIDS discrimination that Bienestar has committed itself to fight against and overcome since we started serving the community in 1989,” said CEO Oscar De La O. “This situation is very unexpected and distressing, especially when we have performed these same services half a block down the street from this Van Nuys location for 12 years. We have never faced this kind of situation before at any of our nine Southern California centers.”

The organization has filed a lawsuit and is seeking an immediate injunction to allow access to the property and case files. “There is no legal or rational basis for the landlord’s highly discriminatory and disruptive action,” said Bienestar attorney Kerrie L. Campbell. “Bienestar’s primary concern, as it has been for 20 years, is the well-being of the people and Southern California communities it serves.”

Until the matter is settled, there will be limited services available in a mobile unit located on Hamlin Street. But visitors will only be able to receive HIV testing, case management and additional care, Tuesday through Thursday, 11am to 3pm.

We have to hope the California legal system has laws in place to prevent this kind of discrimination. Any legal eagles want to file a brief in the comments section?

And if you you want to give some emotional—or financial—support, visit the Bienestar website or Facebook page.