Residents and affordable housing advocates are suing a landlord and the City of St. Helena for violating their rights by allowing the city’s affordable housing stock to fall below acceptable standard and by limiting and failing to facilitate further growth to the affordable housing stock.

The suit, which centers around eleven tenants of a former low-cost housing development, was filed about a year after the city declared portions of a property maintained by the Barbarino family unsafe for habitation. That forced some residents to lose their homes, and they then struggled to find affordable housing in the city. Most of the city’s low-cost housing tenants work in hotels, resorts, or in agriculture.

According to the suit, the City has failed to support low-cost housing developments, with one only additional unit being built since 2005. The City’s plan had called for 76 units to be built between 2007 and 2014.

Plans had been pursued to develop additional affordable housing units, including one plan that went to proposal, before being rejected by the city.

Problems at the Barbarino property weren’t new. As early as 1993, deficiencies in living conditions were discovered. But the suit alleges that the city failed to follow-up, leading to the continuation and further deterioration of the property. That, in conjunction with alleged combative attitudes of the Barbarino family, led to what the plaintiffs describe as discrimination.

Read the full story at the St. Helena Star.