Disgruntled Former Employee Karla Leiva Forces AIDS Healthcare Foundation To Obtain Restraining Order Against Her

AIDS Healthcare Foundation breaks ground for a new building that will provide 216 units of low-income and homeless housing in Downtown L.A.

On March 24, 2022, AIDS Healthcare Foundation protected two staff members by obtaining a temporary restraining order against Karla Leiva, a disgruntled former employee who’s been a disruptive and threatening presence at AHF’s residential properties for low-income and formerly unhoused residents. According to the order, Leiva cannot “harass, molest, strike, assault, batter, abuse, destroy personal property of, or disturb the peace of the person.” She can also not “commit acts of violence or make threats of violence,” and Levia can’t “follow or stalk” during work hours.

Last year, Leiva was fired by AHF for falsifying a disability claim and violating the organization’s employee policies, and now appears to be carrying out a destructive vendetta against AHF. Since then, she has worked to interfere with AHF’s mission by threatening and intimidating her former co-workers, preventing them from providing needed housing services at AHF’s properties. The temporary restraining order allows the organization’s staff members to work without fear and spend more time and energy on carrying out their lifesaving work to house the vulnerable.

In 2017, AIDS Healthcare Foundation established a housing provider division, Healthy Housing Foundation, and a housing advocacy division, Housing Is A Human Right. Based in Los Angeles, AHF saw that the housing affordability and homelessness crises were turning into humanitarian and public health catastrophes — and were impacting AHF clients. Known for urgently addressing such disasters, AHF decided to provide low-income and homeless housing through the adaptive reuse of old hotels and motels in the L.A. area. Healthy Housing Foundation manages the properties.

AHF’s housing work has been an outstanding success. While the city of L.A. struggled to build homeless housing, AHF and HHF spent more than $130 million to produce nearly 1,300 units of low-income and homeless housing in four years at such Downtown L.A. hotels as the King Edward, the Baltimore, and the Madison. AHF will construct thousands more units in the near future.

For its work, AHF uses the “housing first” model, which focuses on quickly moving people off the streets and into housing. It’s way of operating that has wide support from top homelessness organizations and elected officials. Then Karla Leiva was hired by AHF’s Healthy Housing Foundation.

As her employment progressed, Leiva started to make unreasonable demands on AHF to change its housing model and became a defiant employee. Perhaps sensing she was going to be fired, Leiva filed a workers’ compensation claim and took a leave of absence for stress — the claim, however, was unsubstantiated and therefore denied by AHF and its insurance company. Leiva then escalated her dispute with the organization by threatening and intimidating AHF employees.

(Read our special report: “Why Are Barbara Schultz, Karla Leiva, and Ernest Cornish Attacking AIDS Healthcare Foundation?”)

After she was fired, Leiva could have moved on to establish her own organization to help unhoused residents. Instead, she continued her troubling, ultimately threatening, behavior.

Leiva precipitated a confrontation with Healthy Housing Foundation staff, trespassing into AHF’s Madison Hotel against visitation rules she knew about, desperate to find tenants to drum up phony claims against the organization.

Leiva also attempted to disrupt an AHF groundbreaking ceremony in January, which unveiled the organization’s multi-million-dollar plan to construct a new building that will provide 216 units of lower-income and unhoused residents. Thinking only about her personal agenda, Leiva led a protest with a small group of people and attempted to drown out the ceremony by using a megaphone to shout profanity and insults at an AHF staff member and Healthy Housing Foundation. Dog feces was even thrown at AHF employees. Based on this behavior, AHF obtained the restraining order, preventing her from disrupting AHF’s employees and their work.

It’s clear that Leiva’s behavior and personal attacks are escalating. Most recently, Leiva and a group of protesters entered a Jewish synagogue in the San Fernando Valley on March 21, where a Los Angeles mayoral candidate forum was taking place. With no respect for the house of worship and its members, the protesters were “screaming profanities at the candidates and organizers,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Leiva used the forum, which had to be stopped because of her behavior, as an opportunity to go after AHF and its president, Michael Weinstein.

For more than three decades, AHF has tenaciously carried out its mission of providing “cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of ability.” As a result, the organization has been targeted by politicians, governments, and corporations, and criticism, unfortunately, is a part of the work. Leiva is just another gadfly in a long line of AHF critics, who prefer to sit on the sidelines rather than do their own work.

However, when words are replaced by disturbing conduct that targets AHF employees, the organization will protect them so they can work in peace and without fear of harassment from disgruntled former employees. The temporary restraining order against Karla Leiva is an important step to protect AHF’s hard-working staff, who are saving lives every day.

(Read our special report: “Why Are Barbara Schultz, Karla Leiva, and Ernest Cornish Attacking AIDS Healthcare Foundation?”)

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Housing Is A Human Right is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. We fight for what’s right.

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Housing Is A Human Right

Housing Is A Human Right

Housing Is A Human Right is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. We fight for what’s right.

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