Bay Area Housing Providers To Pay $3 Million To Settle CRD Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination Against Families with Children
February 14, 2023
For Immediate Release
Fair Housing violations alleged at 48 apartment complexes affecting more than 2000 families
Sacramento - The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) has reached a consent decree resolving a systemic fair housing lawsuit against property management company Vasona Management, Inc. (Vasona) and more than 30 apartment complex owners for discrimination against families with children at 48 apartment complexes throughout the Bay Area. The settlement has been reached in Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Vasona Property Management, Inc., et al., Case No. RG20078727, which is pending in Alameda County Superior Court.
Following investigation of a complaint filed by Project Sentinel and a subsequent CRD Director’s complaint, CRD brought this lawsuit in October 2020 on behalf of a group of aggrieved families, alleging that Vasona and the owners of apartment complexes that Vasona manages violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) by prohibiting any outdoor play activities and requiring parents to supervise children under the age of 14 in all common areas. Tenants who violated these rules faced threat of eviction.
“Overly restrictive rules that discourage or prohibit children from enjoying their home unlawfully limit where people can live and harm families,” said CRD Director Kevin Kish. “This settlement of a systemic fair housing lawsuit provides substantial relief for affected tenants and raises awareness that California law affords people with children the same access to, benefits, and enjoyment of their housing as all others.”
Housing discrimination based on familial status violates the FEHA and Unruh Act. Under these laws, a housing provider or property manager cannot discriminate because a person has children under the age of 18, is in the process of securing legal custody of a child, or is pregnant.
Pursuant to a consent decree resolving this case, Vasona will pay $3 million to aggrieved families and will implement corrective measures over five years. These measures include submitting any rules about the supervision of children in common areas or resident’s outdoor activities for CRD’s review and approval; distributing brochures to tenants about their rights; creating and maintaining policies to prevent discrimination, including ways for tenants to report discrimination; train for four hours annually anyone involved in the managing or renting of property; and provide an annual report to CRD regarding its compliance with the decree. Owner defendants are prohibited from engaging in future discrimination, including from publishing, applying, or enforcing discriminatory rules at properties they own or manage.
The proposed consent decree can be viewed on the Department’s website.
Nelson Chan, Assistant Chief Counsel, Rumduol Vuong, Assistant Chief Counsel, Mackenzie Anderson, Staff Counsel, and Azadeh Hosseinian, Senior Staff Counsel, represented CRD.
CRD is the state agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws. Formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the mission of the CRD is to protect the people of California from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-fund programs and activities, and from hate violence and human trafficking. For more information, visit calcivilrights.ca.gov.