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After Schwarzenegger's help, Monrovia oasis for disabled is saved

September 21, 2009 |  5:54 pm

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Friday that eviction notices sent to about 20 developmentally and physically disabled residents of a Monrovia apartment complex were “terminated,” some tenants and advocates were cautiously optimistic.

But today a letter from the attorney representing both the owners and property management of Regency Court has made believers of those notified last month that the complex was always meant to be a senior apartment community and anyone under age 62 would have to leave.

Michelle Uzeta, litigation director for the Housing Rights Center, which filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging discrimination based on age and disability, received a fax this morning from Craig Diamond on behalf of Star-Holdings, the Illinois-based owner of Regency Court.

The letter resolved that all disabled tenants’ leases will be renewed and will not be terminated in the future based on age. It also said disabled applicants whose names had been purged from the complex’s waiting list would be reinstated.

“Housing discrimination is so pervasive still in California,” Uzeta said. “It would be great if we had someone like the governor get involved in every one of our cases. We’re really glad that he chose to step in.”

Schwarzenegger visited Regency Court on Friday and said he had been inspired to reach out to Star-Holdings after reading The Times' story about the plight of the complex’s disabled tenants that was published a day earlier.

He also said he heard the voice of his late mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in his head. Shriver, who died in August, founded the Special Olympics and was an advocate for people with disabilities.

The discrimination complaint challenging the complex’s senior status will continue to be pursued so that people with disabilities may be allowed there in the future, Uzeta said.

-- Corina Knoll