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California centre serving queer and HIV+ communities evicted

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – A Southern California organization supporting Latino queer, HIV-positive and at-risk communities has been evicted from the offices it recently moved into after the landlord allegedly said it was “bringing disease” into the building, according to a Sept 1 report in The Advocate.

In an Aug 31 release, spokespeople for Bienestar say the organization relocated to its new Van Nuys offices on Aug 12, began offering services Aug 13 and was fully operational by Aug 14, the day the landlord allegedly demanded that they remove their belongings and vacate the premises. “That same day, a locksmith arrived to change the locks on the building, denying BIENESTAR members access to their property inside the building,” the statement reads. “The landlord informed BIENESTAR on Aug 15 — two days after BIENESTAR opened the center — that he was immediately and permanently terminating the lease."

Bienestar has now filed suit against the landlord and says it will seek relief to gain access to its property, including confidential client files, the release states.

"We feel that we have been treated unfairly . . . 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,” Oscar De La O, president and CEO of Bienestar, says. “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,” De La O adds.

The centre will offer limited services out of its mobile unit, located outside its former offices in Van Nuys, The Advocate says. 

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