Three Los Angeles assisted residing amenities with a largely Korean clientele turned away non-Koreans who inquired about transferring in , with staff stating that solely Koreans could be accepted, in response to a federal lawsuit filed by the Truthful Housing Federation of Southern California and two Black plaintiffs.

The federation, a nonprofit that seeks to get rid of housing discrimination, employed 10 “testers” who posed as members of the family of senior residents concerned with residing in one of many amenities — Sunny Hills Assisted Residing in Pico-Robertson, Backyard Silver City in Koreatown and Mugunghwa Silvertown simply south of Koreatown.

The assisted residing amenities advised the seven non-Korean testers that they solely accepted Koreans, in response to the lawsuit. The three Korean testers despatched to the amenities moved additional alongside within the admissions course of, got a tour and allowed to submit the potential resident’s medical data, the lawsuit mentioned.

Sunny Hills administrator Steve Cho advised The Occasions on Wednesday that he and different staffers consider whether or not an applicant is wholesome sufficient to stay on the facility, which might’t take care of individuals with extreme psychological or bodily diseases.

“Whether or not they’re foreigners, Koreans, white, Black, it doesn’t matter to us,” Cho mentioned in Korean. “An important issue is their situation.”

However the lawsuit, filed final Friday, advised a distinct story.

Plaintiff Lydia Mojica Behrens referred to as Sunny Hills in February 2022 hoping to discover a place for her 89-year-old mom, who suffers from debilitating arthritis and different circumstances, in response to the lawsuit. When Behrens mentioned her mom’s identify, Zenaida Mojica, a employee replied, “Mojica? Is that Spanish?”

Behrens and her mom, who can be a plaintiff, are Black of Cuban ancestry.

In line with the lawsuit, the employee conferred with a colleague, then advised Behrens, “Nicely we solely take Korean individuals. We’re Koreans and everybody right here is Korean.”

When Behrens requested for clarification, the employee added that each resident and worker was Korean, in response to the lawsuit. There was no want for Behrens to take a tour, since her mom was not Korean and wouldn’t be capable to stay there, the lawsuit mentioned.

In line with the lawsuit, when two Black testers inquired a couple of spot for an aged father or mother at Sunny Hills the subsequent month, they bought comparable responses, with one worker stating, “Solely Koreans are cared for right here.”

A tester of Korean ancestry was handled otherwise, the lawsuit mentioned, receiving a tour of the ability and a worth record.

Along with compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys’ charges, the plaintiffs are asking that the defendants not discriminate in opposition to candidates and that the plaintiffs be given a spot on the amenities.

Odion Okojie and David Iyalomhe, attorneys representing the plaintiffs, didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Testers from the housing federation had been handled equally on the two different assisted residing amenities in March 2022, in response to the lawsuit, with non-Korean testers turned away and Korean testers welcomed.

In line with the lawsuit, a Black tester at Backyard Silver City was advised to inquire at amenities that settle for Black individuals, because it was just for Koreans.

A white tester who referred to as Mugunghwa Silvertown was advised that the ability was a “100%” Korean facility and that the potential resident couldn’t apply as a non-Korean, the lawsuit mentioned.

“Not solely did this by no means occur, there’s no method it might have occurred,” Mugunghwa Silvertown administrator Jessica Shin mentioned in Korean. “Our staff undergo anti-discrimination coaching.”

Backyard Silver City administrator Steve Kim referred to as the discrimination allegations “some kind of misunderstanding.”

“I’m in full shock,” mentioned Kim, who mentioned he discovered concerning the lawsuit within the Korean-language media. “We’ve by no means discriminated in opposition to anybody coming into the ability.”

Backyard Silver City is within the coronary heart of Koreatown, so all of its 60 residents are normally Korean, Kim mentioned.

“Prior to now, we’ve had African American residents, Caucasian residents,” Kim mentioned. “It’s simply in the previous couple of years, it’s been plenty of Koreans which were coming in, and that’s simply the way it’s been.”

Cho of Sunny Hills mentioned that potential residents are all the time invited to come back in and have a meal of Korean meals resembling rice, soup and kimchi that non-Koreans is probably not acquainted with.

Two of Sunny Hills’ roughly 90 residents are non-Korean, Cho mentioned. He added that he doesn’t see an issue with a facility in a predominantly Korean neighborhood having a Korean workers and serving an overwhelmingly Korean consumer base.

“I believe there may be an underlying jealousy behind these allegations in opposition to these profitable Korean-run amenities,” he mentioned. “There are plenty of amenities that simply have predominantly white individuals and predominantly Black individuals. Is that discrimination?”

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