Pro Bono News

Meet the Eviction Defenders Helping to Keep Tenants at Home (CA)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Meet the Eviction Defenders Helping to Keep Tenants at Home

"A young man sits at a small table inside the front door of a four-story building less than two blocks from the headquarters of Twitter, Square, and Uber. Without looking up from his laptop, he tells visitors “fourth floor” before they can ask. He knows that almost all of them seek help from above, which in this case means the Eviction Defense Collaborative.

The EDC, as the San Francisco nonprofit is known, provides legal aid to tenants facing eviction, and the three dozen chairs in its waiting area upstairs attest to the acute need for services. This month, the demand has begun to climb with the launch of Tenant Right to Counsel, a two-year, $5.8 million program that ensures renters receive legal representation in eviction cases irrespective of their income level.

The city created and funded the program to fulfill the mandate of a ballot initiative – Proposition F, or the No Eviction Without Representation Act – that voters approved last year. The measure’s passage made San Francisco the second U.S. city after New York to offer renters free legal counsel to fight eviction orders, and the first with universal access to that assistance.

The program marks the latest effort to prevent tenants from losing their homes in a city where gentrification and rising rents propelled by Silicon Valley’s tech boom have reduced low- and middle-income renters to endangered species status. San Francisco has averaged more than 1,700 reported eviction notices a year since 2009, and an estimated 80% to 90% of renters lack a lawyer in such cases..."

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