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Legal battle erupts over California homeless shelter

California city officials in Santa Ana are engaged in a legal battle with property owners who had agreed (in writing) to construct a homeless shelter. The two entities reportedly signed an agreement whereby the city would be able to purchase the property and continue operating the homeless shelter after it was built. Just as the project was nearing completion, construction was halted. Each party is now accusing the other of breaching the contract, and the case is headed for court.  

Orange County recently posted its highest numbers ever for deaths of homeless people within the county. City officials say they agreed to provide 200 beds to get the shelter going and would supply at least 100 more later. Officials say they believe the property owner is trying to back out of the contract because he wants to avoid paying taxes associated with sale of the property.  

Property owner has a different perspective 

The property owner says that the city didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. He also stated that he was willing to adapt the contract with a removal of the clause that would enable the city to purchase the property. The city rejected the newly proposed agreement and demands that construction on the homeless shelter continue. City officials also note that the 200-bed homeless shelter was a requirement resulting from prior litigation in 2019, which homeless advocates initiated after a tent city was shut down.  

Additional funding had just been approved 

The city says it is especially frustrated by the fact that the property owner halted construction after recently receiving an additional $2 million to complete the project. It will now be left to a federal judge to decide whether the homeless shelter will be finished and whether city officials are able to purchase the property. Anyone facing construction law issues in California may want to seek support from an attorney well-versed in this area of law before heading to court. An attorney understands the complex nuances of contract laws and can protect a client’s interests throughout proceedings.