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SD Groups Protest Fair Housing And Employment Office Closure

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Aired 7/16/10

Local advocacy groups voiced their opposition to the state’s plan to close the Department of Fair Housing and Employment office in San Diego in November. The planned closure is part of proposed state budget cuts.

— Local advocacy groups voiced their opposition to the state’s plan to close the Department of Fair Housing and Employment office in San Diego in November. The planned closure is part of proposed state budget cuts.

San Diego Assemblyman Marty Block speaks outside the California State Department Office in San Diego on Front Street.
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Above: San Diego Assemblyman Marty Block speaks outside the California State Department Office in San Diego on Front Street.

The department hears discrimination complaints concerning employment, housing and public accommodation. The San Diego office received 1,200 complaints last year alone. After the closure, Los Angeles will be the closest office to San Diego.

The group accused the state government of neglecting to consider that many San Diegans cannot easily access other offices. Assemblyman Marty Block says that the city often does not receive its fair share of state resources.

"I'm tired of San Diego being a victim of the L.A.s and the San Franciscos and other parts of the state, who get our tax money and don't provide us with the services we need," Block said.

Peter Zschiesche is the director of the Employee Rights Center in San Diego. He says a phone call to Los Angeles is not the right way to handle discrimination complaints.

"These are emotional issues, they are not well said over a 1-800 telephone number or answering five questions in a website,” he said. "These are things that people want to be able to express in their own words to human beings and have some interaction and understand what's going on and what can I do."

The proposed state budget cuts include limiting damages to claims over $7,500 against employers. People seeking help can take complaints to the Federal Equal Opportunities Commission, but that agency only covers businesses with 15 employees or more.

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