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.

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  • Neo

    Any bets on how many records these bigots will have taken and expose? I’m thinking most of them will end up on pastebin in the next month or so.

    They may blame anonymous.

  • Bob LaBlah

    When you stop long enough and look at the Indian blood that flows through the veins of the majority of most Latinos from Central America it is a downright shame what the Catholic Church has done to the mindset of the majority of them.

    The same applies to Christianity in the black and white communities as well. “God is forgiving, god is great” and all other types of B/S as long as you do whatever the Charlatan who happens to be preaching at the moment commands.Imagine for a second how many teenage altar boys were told they would burn in hell of they did not bend over “so the work of the Lord could be done”.

    Though the article did not state this I have no doubt some santimonious bastard got his panties twisted out of shape after seeing all of those hot guys outside supporting the opening of the center and the next day started going in to utilize the services.

  • tdx3fan

    Its HIV not Hepatitis. I could be more understanding if it was Hepatitis because Hepatitis can live on some surfaces up to a week.

    However, if the owner of the building was not informed that the leaser of the building was going to be using it for an HIV clinic then that is on the leaser not the owner. This is why you should be upfront and honest about what your intentions are when selecting a building in the first place.

    However, since this is California, there are mostly likely some sort of laws to prevent this discrimination.

  • Eric Auerbach

    The center’s name is Bienestar.

  • mlbumiller

    This was an unlawful eviction under CA Civil Code. A letter of eviction stating the reason under the terms of the lease agreement needed to be served. Then the renter has 30 days to comply or leave. They were only given hours before locks were changed and have not been given access to their property.

    If the owner did not have terms of use in the lease, their own fault.

    The comment about HIV vs. HIV; better watch what you say there, borders on discrimination on medical disability. Also, it is not a “HIV Clinic”. BIENESTAR is a grass-roots, non-profit, community-based social services organization, established in 1989, and dedicated to positively impacting the health and well-being of the Latino community and other underserved communities in Southern California. “ The center includes HIV prevention and education, rapid HIV testing, skills-building workshops, condom distribution and community outreach; psychosocial case management for HIV-positive people focused on retention in medical care, mental health services, support groups, food banks, treatment adherence and access to benefits; and housing assistance, including referrals and placement in permanent and transitional housing, application support, and follow-up. BIENESTAR’s services have recently expanded to include mental health services and state-certified substance abuse outpatient treatment to the greater community. The suspension or curtailment of these services is a threat to the health and well-being of the Van Nuys community.” 4 of the 6 FDA approved rapid HIV testing is done with a finger stick and is no different than a diabetic testing their blood sugar.

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