Statement by the No on Measure L Campaign
The following letter was just received from the Fair Housing Council of Orange County advising the City of Davis of the wrongful naming of the West Davis Active Adult Community senior housing project:
“the term ‘active adult community’ is very much misguided and needs to be changed…rather than moving forward with a name that readily implies that the community is not welcoming of individuals who have a right to choose to live within in its borders.” (excerpted from letter)
Eric Gelber, a Davis resident with 26 years experience as an attorney with disability rights advocacy experience – including fair housing advocacy – made the following statement in response to this letter:
“The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA) added disability and families with children as protected classes under the federal Fair Housing Act. A concession to seniors was also enacted to allow for senior housing developments, which could continue to utilize age restrictions if specified conditions were met. One of the conditions is that 20 percent of the housing in such developments must not be age-restricted, and must be available to younger households, including families with children.
Some of the earliest cases under the FHAA focused on advertising for developments, which marketed themselves as communities for “active adults.” Such advertising was determined to be a not so subtle way of discriminating against people with disabilities who were not traditionally “active.” Similarly, advertising a senior housing development as an “adult” community, gives the impression that families with children are not welcome in even the 20 percent of homes that are not age-restricted. (emphasis added)
On October 23rd, the City received a letter from the Fair Housing Council of Orange County expressing concerns with the name of the proposed development known as the “West Davis Active Adult Community”—the subject of Measure L on the November 6th ballot. The name characterizes the development not only as a community for “adults,” thereby sending the message that families with children are not welcome in even the non-age-restricted homes, but also as a community for “active” adults, implying that persons with disabilities, including seniors with disabilities, are likewise not welcome. (emphasis added)
Opponents of Measure L have focused on the exclusionary and discriminatory character of WDAAC. The letter from the Orange County Fair Housing Council validates that analysis. Changing the name of WDAAC, as the Fair Housing Council recommends, however, may address the messaging concerns with WDAAC, but it will not change the fundamental purpose and intent underlying this exclusionary housing proposal. Changing the name would not change the fact that housing based on exclusion is not good policy and is wrong for Davis.” (emphasis added)
In 2017, Doug Chasick, President of The Fair Housing Institute, Inc., stated the following about the naming, identifying, and advertising of senior housing projects: :
“Some state and local enforcement agencies claim that using phrases such as “Adult Living” or “Adult Community” are illegal as the terms are not in agreement with the exempt requirement and could potentially open you up to fair housing complaints. Additionally, HUD has cautioned properties to avoid terms like “active adult” for the same reasons….Here’s a list of recommended terms to … avoid when promoting senior housing properties: (emphasis added)
– “Adult” – It has been illegal to have an adults-only community since the addition of the Fair Housing Amendments Act in 1988.
– “Active” – Every senior should be welcome, whether active or not active. The Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) specifically addresses housing for persons over the age of 55 and/or 62 and the best way to identify those folks is the word “Senior.”
– “Empty nester” – the exemption is based upon age of occupants, not familial status.
– “Adult Living” or ”Adult Community” – Some state and local enforcement agencies claim these phrases are illegal as the terms are incompatible with the requirement.” (emphasis Added)
It is apparent that this grievous – and possibly illegal – fundamental problem in the simple naming of the West Davis Active Adult Community senior project calls into question the overall competency of the entire project management team (David & Jason Taormino and Neighborhood Partners LLC) to manage such a complicated real estate endeavor. At minimum, there is going to have to be another apology to the community and some very quick rebranding to comply with legal marketing requirements.
The WDAAC project has so many layers of exclusion and discrimination it is difficult to keep track of them all. Combined with the project’s recent apologies and rebranding for the offensively-named “Taking Care of Our Own- Davis-Based Buyer’s Program”; along with the civil rights lawsuit recently filed against the project alleging that its Davis-Based Buyer’s Program “will perpetuate racial imbalance and discriminate against minorities by restricting sales to residents of Davis” and that it would lead to “the continuation of a racially imbalanced community and the exclusion of minority would-be purchasers in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act”, this letter from the Fair Housing Council of Orange County leads to the obvious questions: “Will voters even know what they are voting for anymore?” and “What else are the project proponents doing wrong that we will find out about later?”
From the No on Measure L – No on West Davis Active Adult Community (oops! – we are not quite sure what to call it anymore!) Campaign
Read the letter here: Fair Housing Council of Orange Co Letter re West Davis Active Adult Community