Los Angeles – City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a civil enforcement action against the operators of two unlicensed assisted living facilities for allegedly jeopardizing the health and safety of physically and mentally disabled residents. The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the residents’ personal rights, subjecting them to deplorable, overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary living conditions.
Feuer sought, and the Court appointed, a receiver to immediately begin to work with state, county and local agencies to relocate individuals requiring assisted care to licensed facilities.
“These residents are among the most vulnerable in our society and they were forced to live a daily nightmare,” said Feuer. “We are bringing that nightmare to a close.”
The two facilities, Agape Mission House and Agape Home Church, are located at 2205 and 2217-19 South Hobart Boulevard in Los Angeles’ historic Adams District. The facilities are a block away from the First African Methodist Episcopal Church and close to public and private elementary schools, preschools and after school programs.
The City Attorney’s Complaint states that the facilities, “…have a long history of noncompliance with applicable laws, licensing regulations and restrictions, health and safety codes and landlord tenant laws. Defendants blatantly disregarded these laws, as well as rights of physically and mentally disabled adults, by continuing to retain and place such individuals in deplorable, overcrowded and substandard living conditions without regard for their safety and well-being, creating an imminent risk to both defendants’ tenants and members of the surrounding community and a public nuisance.”
Specific instances of abuse alleged in the complaint include punishments for failure to attend religious services twice a day, without any regard for residents’ individual religious beliefs. Punishments consist of being made to stand by a tree for up to four hours; being made to translate Bible verses for an entire day; being locked in the facility for several days; being made to sleep outside at night; or even being discharged. Some residents reported they are locked in at night, that they are not allowed access to the kitchen and pantry and that Defendants collect their county or federal benefits cards as rent at the beginning of each month and deny residents access to their own spending money.
The complaint alleges that the Defendants’ conduct violates California’s unfair competition laws, false advertising law, the Community Care Facilities Act, the Health and Safety code and constitutes a public nuisance, and can subject the operators to a penalty of between $2,500 and $7,500 for each act that threatens the health and safety of residents.
The regulatory agencies that are assisting in this matter include the Social Security Administration, California Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division, Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, WISE and Healthy Aging Ombudsman Program and Los Angeles County agencies including Adult Protective Services, Department of Mental Health and Department of Public Health.
Assistant City Attorney Jose Egurbide is spearheading the litigation for the City Attorney’s Office.