OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an amicus brief in Marin County Superior Court in defense of a proposed project that would convert a former nursing home in Marin County’s Greenbrae community into a permanent supportive housing facility for people with disabilities experiencing homelessness. California’s Homekey Program provided funding for this 43-unit facility through a $15.5 million grant in February 2022. Then a group of Marin County residents called the South Eliseo Neighborhood Alliance attempted to block the project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Article 34 of the California Constitution, which was adopted by initiative in 1950 and requires local votes on “low rent housing projects.” In the brief, the Attorney General argues that Homekey Program-funded projects are exempt from CEQA and Article 34, consistent with the Legislature’s intent to expeditiously expand housing for people experiencing homelessness.
“The innovative Homekey Program is a national model, providing resources for local governments to construct, convert, or otherwise expand housing opportunities for Californians experiencing homelessness,” said Attorney General Bonta. “To date, the Homekey Program has provided housing for more than 8,000 Californians, and much of the success of the program comes from the speed at which these projects are able to be approved. That is no accident. The Legislature expressly exempted Homekey Program-funded developments from CEQA and Article 34. I urge the Marin County Superior Court to recognize this clear directive and reject South Eliseo Neighborhood Alliance’s attempt to block much-needed housing for Marin County residents with disabilities.”
In the brief, Attorney General Bonta urged the Superior Court to find that the Homekey Program project is exempt from CEQA and Article 34 because the Legislature:
Attorney General Bonta is committed to advancing housing access, affordability, and equity in California. In November, Attorney General Bonta announced the creation of the Housing Strike Force and launched a Housing Portal on DOJ’s website with resources and information for California homeowners and tenants. The Housing Strike Force encourages Californians to send complaints or tips related to housing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Housing Strike Force works in coordination with the Disability Rights Bureau to ensure that the housing rights of persons with disabilities are advanced through specific investigations and litigation. Earlier this year, the Attorney General issued letters to remind local officials across the state of key legal protections under California law meant to uphold the civil rights of people with disabilities. More recently, the Attorney General hosted a convening with disability rights advocates to discuss housing discrimination and other issues. For more information on the Disability Rights Bureau please visit: oag.ca.gov/civil/disability-rights.
A copy of the brief is available here.