San Francisco – In the midst of San Francisco’s affordability crisis, where evictions of tenants in rent controlled housing units have skyrocketed, Supervisor David Campos, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and tenant advocates are asking the City of San Francisco to fund enough attorneys to provide a right to counsel for any tenant facing an unlawful detainer eviction. The Board of Supervisor’s Budget and Legislative Analyst recently released a report finding that an additional 12-13 attorneys supplementing existing attorneys at the 14 non-profits providing no or low cost legal services to tenants in San Francisco would provide this right to counsel.
In 2013, 78 percent of the 3,662 tenants who received an eviction notice were unrepresented in court or did not defend themselves against eviction. This is in stark contrast to landlords, who were represented 90 percent of the time. Studies show that tenants are 5-10 percent more likely to continue living in their homes if they have legal representation during the eviction process.
“Unlike other periods in San Francisco, if individuals are evicted from their homes today, they almost certainly have to leave the City,” states Supervisor Campos. “While there is no silver bullet to solving San Francisco’s affordability crisis, we owe it to long time San Franciscans to help them remain in their homes by providing them legal representation throughout the entire eviction process.”
Tyler Macmillian, executive director of Eviction Defense Collaborative, adds: “The tenants’ rights organizations in the City are overwhelmed by requests for assistance. If we are able to provide full scope legal representation throughout the entire eviction process, we are often successful in keeping San Franciscans in their homes. The problem is there are not enough attorneys in San Francisco providing these services at low or no cost.”
“While it is wonderful that City policy makers have made it a goal to increase the number of affordable housing units produced in the City over the next few years, the fact remains that rent controlled units are by far the most significant source of price controlled housing that is not vulnerable to the market. Every time we keep a San Franciscan in her rent controlled apartment, we ensure that the City maintains a significant part of its affordable housing stock,” explained Sara Shortt, executive director of Housing Rights Committee.
“While there is no silver bullet to solving San Francisco’s affordability crisis, we owe it to long time San Franciscans to help them remain in their homes by providing them legal representation throughout the entire eviction process.”
Campos, Adachi and the coalition of tenants’ advocates have asked the Board of Supervisors to fund the additional 12-13 attorneys as part of the City’s 2014-2015 budget. Given the recent defeat of Sen. Leno’s Ellis Act Reform Bill in Sacramento, funding additional attorneys to provide eviction defense in San Francisco is even more critical.
A copy of the Budget and Legislative Analyst report can be found here: http://www.sfbos.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=49498.