Housing Rights

Important action alert

The City of Los Angeles is considering major changes to its zoning laws designed to prohibit sober living and other group homes for the disabled in single-family residential areas. If you operate a sober living home in Los Angeles you need to get involved. In addition to sober lving homes, those affected include students, seniors, friends and roommates, adult children living with their parents, and people who rent homes together for any reason. SEE THIS PAGE for more information.

OVERVIEW: Know the Legal Rights and Protections for Housing for Persons with Disabilities

There are federal and state legal protections for housing rights for persons of disabilities, such as people with alcoholism and other drug addictions, mental illness, and developmental disabilities, to name a few. Unfortunately, these rights have not been well publicized. Therefore, the people who have disabilities, those who provide group housing for them, and local governments who enact zoning and land use regulations are not as informed as they should be on this very important subject.

As a result, some governments have enacted or are considering enacting ordinances that are considered in violation of these laws. As providers have become more educated in the past few years they are standing up more for these rights with their local governments. Here are three issue briefings that explain key points that all providers of housing for persons with disabilities, their advocates and staff and elected officials of local governments need to know.

pdf logoSober Living Fact Sheet from the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs

This document describes the qualities of a good sober living home. Note that one guideline (individual resident agreements) cannot be met in the City of Los Angeles as the result of a pending zoning ordinance.

Recovery and Social Benefits of Sober Living

pdf logoDePaul University Study: Sober living produces outcomes superior to traditional outpatient treatment (2006)

This study found compelling evidence that sober living improves outcomes for abstinence, employment and criminality at two years, relative to standard outpatient/self-help treatment approaches.

pdf logoAmerican Planning Association: Policy Guide on Community Residences

This guide cites studies showing that recovery housing and other group homes do not negatively impact neighborhoods, and are legitimate residential uses of property. The guide also summarizes federal legal protections.

Housing Rights vs. City of Los Angeles Proposed Rezoning Ordinance

The City of Los Angeles proposes drastic zoning changes that potentially negatively impact any person in the city of Los Angles who rents or owns a duplex or single family residence.

For more information about the situation in Los Angeles, visit this page.

pdf logoCity of Los Angeles proposed ordinance (January 2010)

In this report the City Planning Department advised the Planning Commission and City Council that efforts to specifically restrict sober living and some other types of non-licensed group homes were not legally defensible: “Every alternative considered was illegal, unenforceable, or discriminatory. In particular, some were too broad in their impact such that several individuals living as roommates would be prohibited.” (P. 10 of this report)

pdf logoCity of Los Angeles proposed ordinance (September 2010)

In this version of the proposal, the City reverses itself. It proposes new zoning regulations for housing in low density residential areas that focus solely on financial relationships between the owner of a duplex or single family home and its residents, rather than whether they function as a family by banning all homes that have more than one lease arrangement. The ordinance would also require a conditional use permit (CUP) for homes housing parolees although how that would be done is not yet clarified.

pdf logoCity of Los Angeles proposed ordinance (revised February 2011)

In this most recent version, parolee and probationer provisions have been completely removed. The attempt to redefine family remains, and provides no exemption for disabled residents who are required by certain State and Federal programs to have separate financial arrangements for their housing.

This version failed to receive approval by the City Planning Commission, but the City Council has opted to consider it anyway.

Please help us expand this section

We would like to make this section a comprehensive reference for the fair housing rights of the disabled in group homes. We are interested in authoritative content on law, practice and policy at all levels of government nationwide. If you have information you believe we should include here, please .

The links above open PDF files. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed on your computer, you may download it (free) by clicking on the link below (download page will open in a new window):

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