California hopes to block affordable housing NIMBYs in city that is the home of Disneyland

Reason Magazine, the libertarian standard-bearer for many of its readers, has, at the very least, a definite “lean-right bias,” despite presenting itself as outside the left-right political binary. For example, it regularly uses loaded words — some say right-wing talking points — to describe climate-change issues.

But there are some issues at which Reason excels, and one of those can be seen in this article about how the city of Anaheim (CA) has illegally blocked affordable housing in that city:

California’s state government is coming to the aid of an Anaheim-based nonprofit whose plan to open a group home for formerly homeless women was shot down by the city at the behest of NIMBY neighbors.

It’s a case that tests the power of California housing officials to set limits on localities’ ability to say no to new housing. Should the state prevail, Anaheim could have to permit far more housing than just group homes.

On Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) filed an application to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Grandma’s House of Hope against Anaheim in Orange County Superior Court earlier this year. That lawsuit challenged the city’s refusal to issue House of Hope a conditional use permit to establish a 15-person group home serving formerly homeless women with mental health disabilities.

“The support and assistance that transitional housing providers like Grandma’s House of Hope deliver are essential in addressing California’s homelessness crisis and the shortage of housing for people with disabilities,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez in a press release. “Cities and counties across the state will be held accountable for attempts to evade fair housing and anti-discrimination laws.”

For close to two years now, House of Hope has been locked in a contentious battle with Anaheim city officials and neighborhood opponents over its proposed group home.

Its original plan was to host up to 21 women at an 8-bedroom house in a single-family neighborhood on West Street near Anaheim’s downtown. They’d receive therapy and other services from seven House of Hope staff members, several of whom would be on-call 24/7 to respond to emergencies. The plan would be to move these women into permanent housing within 18 months.

It’s something House of Hope has succeeded with at its other group homes, including some in Anaheim. The nonprofit reports a 65 percent success rate at placing program participants in permanent housing within 9 to 18 months and has partnered with the Orange County government on various programs over the years.

But their proposal for an additional Anaheim group home proved controversial with a vocal set of nearby residents. They argued their neighborhood was already “oversaturated” with group homes and that adding another one would threaten public safety, strain sewer infrastructure, and overtask emergency services.

This same scenario plays out across the U.S., with states passing laws about affordable housing requirements and then cities and towns basically ignoring those requirements when local residents make a fuss. So it’s nice to see California taking a stand in at least one city. Now if they could do the same thing in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas.

affordable housing protest

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