OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, on the two-year anniversary of the Housing Justice Team within the California Department of Justice, highlighted the critical work done to fight for equitable, affordable housing:
“Two years ago today, I launched the Housing Justice Team to advance housing access, affordability, and equity in California. Since then, our talented attorneys have delivered real results,” said Attorney General Bonta. “From protecting renters from unlawful evictions to ensuring that local governments allow for the building of their fair share of housing, I am immensely proud of what the Housing Justice Team has accomplished already. Tackling California’s housing crisis remains a top priority — and with the work of the past two years, we are just getting started.”
Formerly called the Housing Strike Force, the Housing Justice Team draws on the expertise of attorneys from the California Department of Justice’s Land Use and Conservation Section; Consumer Protection Section; Civil Rights Enforcement Section; and the Environment Section’s Bureau of Environmental Justice. Among the Housing Justice Team’s accomplishments are the following:
- Securing a settlement with the City of Coronado that will allow for the development of 912 housing units.
- Securing a settlement with the City of San Bernardino that will allow for the development of 8,123 housing units.
- Securing a settlement against Green Valley Corporation, a San Jose-based housing developer and property manager also known as Swenson Builders, to resolve allegations that the company violated the California Tenant Protection Act by issuing unlawful rent increases to nearly 20 of its employee tenants and serving unlawful eviction notices to six of those employee tenants.
- Securing a $3.5 million settlement against Wedgewood, a Los Angeles county-based real estate investment company, resolving allegations that Wedgewood unlawfully evicted tenants from properties purchased at foreclosure sales.
- Filing a lawsuit against the City of Elk Grove over its failure to approve a housing proposal that would create 66 apartments for lower-income households at risk of homelessness.
- Filing a lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach over its failure to adopt a compliant housing element. The housing element is a crucial tool for building housing for moderate-, low-, and very low-income Californians.
- Successfully defending state laws, like the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), from local governments challenging their obligation to plan and zone for more housing.
- Sponsoring and supporting housing bills, such as Assembly Bill 1485, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom and will permit the Attorney General to automatically intervene without court permission in lawsuits brought by third parties for alleged violations of state housing laws.
- Reminding local governments of the strict requirements for “urgency zoning ordinances,” and discouraging the abuse of such ordinances to limit or circumvent state housing laws.
- Issuing letters to all housing authorities in the state, reminding them that tenants who receive Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are protected under California’s Tenant Protection Act.
- Issuing legal guidance about steps law enforcement officers should take to prevent and respond to unlawful lockouts and self-help evictions.
- Reminding California’s tenants of their rights and protections under state law, including limits on rent increases.
- Announcing statewide guidance to address Crime-Free Housing policies that disproportionally discriminate against people of color, survivors of domestic violence, people with disabilities, and justice-involved individuals.
For more information about the Housing Justice Team and its work, as well as resources for homeowners and tenants, visit www.oag.ca.gov/housing. The Housing Justice Team reminds Californians that they can send complaints or tips related to housing to email@example.com. Tenants who need legal help can find legal aid resources in their area at www.LawHelpCA.org.