Persistence and Advocacy for Disability Rights Culminate in Unveiling of 1000th Accessible Unit by Los Angeles Housing Department

Press Release

Persistence and Advocacy for Disability Rights Culminate in Unveiling of 1000th Accessible Unit by Los Angeles Housing Department

A black man in a wheel chair in his kitchen and looking at camera.

(Los Angeles, CA) - Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF), Independent Living Center of Southern California (ILCSC), Disability Rights California and Relman Colfax PLLC have come together to applaud the Los Angeles Housing Department’s (LAHD) unveiling of its 1000th accessible unit in the accessible housing program, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards disability rights and justice. This achievement is the result of years of collaboration, advocacy and the pursuit of justice. 

“LAHD is happy to celebrate this milestone of the 1000th accessible unit in the City of Los Angeles," said Ann Sewill, General Manager of LAHD. "Providing affordable, accessible housing creates opportunities far beyond the housing itself, ensuring people can live, work, and build communities together."

Accessible and safe housing is essential to the well-being of all individuals,” said  Keith Miller, Executive Director of CALIF. “Because of the work done by Lillibeth and CALIF, we have witnessed many individuals with disabilities go from living on the streets or in institutions to living independently in a healthier and safer community of their choosing. They no longer have to feel dependent on others to help them meet their personal daily needs.”

While many people contributed to this milestone, the tireless efforts of Lilibeth Navarro deserve special attention. The Founder and Executive Director of CALIF, Lillibeth passed away in September 2023, after decades of pushing for greater community inclusion of people with disabilities. She was an active part of the litigation and settlement of the groundbreaking accessible housing litigation that reshaped the way that accessibility is incorporated into the design and operation of affordable housing in Los Angeles. 

“The Independent Living Center of Southern California is committed to serving persons with disabilities and their needs for both accessible and affordable housing throughout the City and County of Los Angeles. Therefore, we acknowledge this initial milestone, and we look forward to the expedited continuation of these efforts by the City of Los Angeles,” said Norma Vescovo, CEO  and Executive Director at ILC of Southern California.

Beginning in 2012, Relman Colfax and co-counsel, Disability Rights California, represented ILCSC, CALIF and another organization in litigation alleging the City of Los Angeles had not ensured that City-funded housing complied with federal accessibility requirements. In August 2016, the plaintiffs and the City entered into the largest accessible housing settlement in the nation’s history. That settlement ensured the construction and rental of at least 4,000 highly accessible housing units, significantly impacting the lives of people with disabilities throughout the city.

“One thousand new accessible units in Los Angeles bring the disability community that many steps closer to full community integration,” said Michael Allen, a partner at Relman Colfax who has been deeply involved in the litigation and implementation of the settlement. “When the City has fulfilled all of its settlement obligations, Los Angeles will have the most accessible affordable housing portfolio in the country and will be a model for other big cities.” 

While reaching this 1,000-unit milestone is commendable, much work remains to be done. The timely addition of 3,000 highly accessible affordable rental housing units will allow Angelenos with disabilities to transition out of institutional settings and reconnect with their communities. This group has collaborated closely with the City throughout the years to develop innovative housing management policies, ensuring that accessible units are allocated to tenants who need them most. This partnership underscores a shared commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable society for all residents of Los Angeles.

“Disability Rights California is looking forward to seeing the enormous impact that an additional 3,000 accessible affordable apartments will have for those individuals with disabilities in Los Angeles who are currently unhoused or struggling with inaccessible housing due to the lack of such housing,” said Dara Schur, Senior Counsel at Disability Rights California.

As we celebrate this achievement, we reaffirm our dedication to advancing disability rights and ensuring access to affordable, accessible housing for all. Together, we will continue to advocate for a more inclusive and accessible future for the city of Los Angeles.

Media Contacts

Melody Pomraning
Communications Director
Disability Rights California

Paris Kissel
bekind comms

Sharon Sandow
Los Angeles Housing Department
(213) 361-3724


Disability Rights California (DRC) – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to defend, advance, and strengthen the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities.