Court Agrees Anaheim Violated State Law. Decision is a Big Win for Fair Housing in California
The Orange County Superior Court today ruled in favor of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), finding that the City of Anaheim violated multiple state housing laws when it denied a well-established local nonprofit a permit to create transitional housing for women with mental health disabilities who recently experienced homelessness.
In 2021, Grandma’s House of Hope – which had already established multiple facilities for women in other parts of Anaheim – was told it needed a conditional use permit (CUP) to house 16 women in an eight-bedroom home in the City’s Colony District after vocal opposition from neighbors. The CUP application was then denied. HCD and the nonprofit filed suit on the grounds that the City violated various state laws by treating transitional housing for formerly homeless women differently from other single-family homes in the same zone.
“Today’s ruling by the court is a victory for the state and should serve as a signal to other jurisdictions that discriminatory and NIMBY policies will not be tolerated,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Transitional homes are a critical tool to address the homelessness crisis on our streets and get people into housing. Communities stubbornly refusing to allow housing for all Californians will ultimately be held accountable.”
The City of Anaheim requires a CUP for transitional or supportive housing for more than six residents, despite being warned by HCD in May 2021 that “imposing separate, more onerous requirements on housing for a protected class” – such as people with disabilities – could constitute discrimination in land use. Today’s ruling confirms HCD’s position and signals to other jurisdictions that discrimination will not stand.
“This ruling is a major win for fair housing, and a warning to those who would stand in the way of housing for those most in need,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The representatives of the people of California will prevail to protect fair housing. Californians will be housed, and housing discrimination will not be tolerated.”
Today’s court ruling specified that Anaheim violated Housing Element Law, the Housing Accountability Act, the Land Use Anti-Discrimination Law, and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Law. The court declared the City’s illegal permitting rules null and void and set further proceedings to consider whether to impose further remedies.
At today's hearing, the Attorney General's Office represented HCD and Holland & Knight LLP represented Grandma's House of Hope.