AHF Sues Post Office Over Refusal to Deliver Mail to Tenants at SRO Buildings

In Featured, News by Ged Kenslea

US Postal Service has legal duty to deliver mail directly to permanent residents with locking mail receptacles compliant with all USPS standards; Lawsuit also asserts unlawful discrimination


LOS ANGELES (February 13, 2024) –  AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest HIV/AIDS healthcare organization, filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the United States Postal Service (USPS), United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and United States Postmaster of Los Angeles Jeremie Six over the USPS’ refusal to deliver mail to individual residents of single-room-occupancy buildings (SROs). AHF currently houses 1417 people in 13 SRO properties in Los Angeles.


The Postal Service formally was served on the case – Shawn Jenkins and AIDS Healthcare Foundation vs. USPS, Louis DeJoy & Six … (Case No.  2:24-cv-00885) – as of February 9th.


California law requires landlords have an individual, locking mailbox for each SRO tenant. However, the USPS is refusing to deliver mail into those individual mailboxes, instead dumping dozens or hundreds of people’s mail into one big pile at the front desk of each SRO property each day.


AHF’s lawsuit also asserts USPS’ refusal to deliver mail individually to SRO residents who are predominantly non-white and African American constitutes unlawful discrimination in violation of the Due Process Clause under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which requires the United States government and its agencies to practice equal protection.  Plaintiff Shawn Jenkins is African American, a resident of AHF’s Madison Hotel, and an employee of Healthy Housing Foundation, and as such, is impacted by both sides of the Post Office’s arbitrary policy


“In defiance of California law, the United States Postal Service refuses to distribute mail individually to the permanent residents of these SRO buildings despite the availability of locking mail receptacles compliant with all USPS standards,” said Conrad Sison, Assistant General Counsel for AHF. “The USPS arbitrarily has chosen to classify all SROs as hotels for transient guests even though SROs serve as primary residences for people just like apartments. The whole scenario is ridiculous and an unnecessary bureaucratic turf war between the California Legislature and the United States Postal Service.”



“There appears to be inherent unfairness, classism, and racism in the USPS’ willingness to deliver mail individually to each tenant in a multi-unit apartment building in, say, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, while just dumping the mail in a big pile in each SRO hotel on Skid Row and getting out of there as quickly as possible,” said plaintiff Shawn Jenkins. “Metaphorically and literally, it telegraphs a message that the Post Office wants to have as little as possible to do with the 100% poor and 60% Black tenants at these SROs.”


For several years, and on many occasions, AHF has informally asked the USPS to deliver the mail properly in Skid Row. AHF even filed a formal administrative claim with the USPS to get a change in delivery, but those efforts did not result in any constructive action by the USPS. Finally, AHF felt compelled to turn to litigation.

AHF lawsuit asks the Post Office to establish policies to ensure the USPS treats SROs and multi-family apartment buildings the same, including delivering mail individually to SRO residents, writing that          “Judicial relief is necessary to ensure that the USPS implements procedures to ensure the prompt and reliable delivery of mail to SRO residents, as required by 39 U.S.C. § 101(e).”

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