Santa Maria, Calif., Addresses local housing discrimination


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has entered into a Compliance / Conciliation Agreement (VCA) with the city of Santa Maria, Calif., Resolving allegations that the city’s restrictions on housing for certain holders of farm worker visas in residential areas of the city violate the Fair Housing Act. It also violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 1964 and section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act.

“There is a long history of segregation and exclusion of agricultural workers in this country,” said Jeanine Worden, HUD acting deputy secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “Excluding residents of neighborhoods because of their race, color or national origin violates fair housing laws. The Fair Housing Law is clear: Courts cannot exclude people from neighborhoods or cities based on their race, color or national origin. “

The city ordinance imposed a “discretionary conditional use permit requirement” on employee housing, intended for holders of an H-2A foreign farm worker visa. The text and legislative history of the restriction make it clear that this ordinance was only intended for the accommodation of certain holders of farm worker visas, more than 90% of whom are from Mexico. The ministry filed a complaint filed by the secretary on August 26, 2020, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Finally, the local government suspended the application of this ordinance. The city has agreed to review fines imposed under the ordinance for potential refunds and to hire an employee housing resources manager to handle complaints about discrimination and ensure the quality and safety of housing units. employees. Additionally, the city has agreed to make an effort to identify other existing zoning laws that may be discriminatory.

Under Title VI and Section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act, HUD initiated a compliance review regarding the restrictions in April 2020. Housing discrimination complaints can also be filed by going at hud.gov/fairhousing.


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