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Voters OK'd Legal Aid for Tenants Facing Eviction - Now Comes the Hard Part (OK)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Voters OK'd Legal Aid for Tenants Facing Eviction - Now Comes the Hard Part

"Over the past year, with housing still expensive and scarce, more than 1,600 San Francisco tenants have received eviction notices. On June 5, city voters made history, guaranteeing legal help to anyone facing eviction, regardless of income.

Proposition F passed with more than 55 percent support, making San Francisco, where renters make up nearly two-thirds of all households, the first city to pass such a law through a voter-approved initiative.

Now comes the hard part: Meeting the deadline to set up the multimillion-dollar program by July 2019.

In San Francisco, voters could face a similar measure next year.

The results will likely to push forward a growing “right to counsel” movement for civil litigation. San Francisco is among a handful of cities across the country reframing discussions about when Americans should be given legal representation in non-criminal cases.

“There is a movement afoot,” said Gloria Chun, an attorney at the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco. “Everyone is keeping a close eye on San Francisco.”

New York Led the Way

San Francisco’s road to universal representation for tenants was paved in August 2017, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the first-in-the-nation Right to Counsel in Housing Court. By the end of a five-year phase-in, an estimated 400,000 New Yorkers facing eviction will have access to some form of free legal assistance. Those earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line ($24,280 for an individual or $50,200 for a family of four) will be entitled to full representation throughout the eviction process. Those over that threshold will receive one consultation with a nonprofit or other legal services organization on the city’s list of providers..."

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