Mayor London Breed Announces Funding to Implement Tenant Right to Counsel Program
$5.8 million awarded to nonprofit legal service providers to help prevent unlawful evictions and displacement
Mayor London N. Breed today announced the local nonprofit legal service organizations that will receive $5.8 million in total funding over the next two years to provide legal assistance to San Francisco tenants facing eviction. The Tenant Right to Counsel (TRC) Program is the first of its kind in California and second nationally.
“As a lifelong renter, I know what it is like to face housing insecurity and the threat of eviction,” said Mayor Breed. “I fought to include funding for tenant legal defense services in the budget because no one should face eviction alone without knowing their rights. This is one of the most important things we can do to prevent displacement and keep our residents housed.”
Voters passed Proposition F in June 2018, which established a policy that all residential tenants facing eviction in San Francisco have a right to legal representation. While Proposition F did not create a funding source for its implementation, Mayor Breed worked with the Board of Supervisors to rebalance the City’s budget to include $1.9 million in Fiscal Year 2018-2019 and $3.9 million in 2019-2020 to implement the TRC Program.
“Eviction and displacement create incredible hardship for both the household losing a home and communities losing valuable friends, colleagues, and neighbors,” said Kate Hartley, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “We are so pleased to be funding eviction defense services so that we can support the housing stability that our families and the health of our City depend upon.”
The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) provides the City’s primary funding for counseling and legal services for tenants and will oversee the implementation of the TRC Program. MOHCD carried out a competitive funding process to select TRC Program Partners to provide legal assistance and a TRC Program Lead Partner to assist with program planning, develop and oversee a centralized case intake and referral system, and provide legal assistance. With this new funding, the TRC Program will begin ramping up immediately with full implementation planned for July 2019.
The Eviction Defense Collaborative (EDC) was selected to serve as lead partner for the program and will work in collaboration with the ten partner nonprofit legal service organizations to determine which organization is best suited to handle each individual case. Funding for TRC will be apportioned to each organization in relation to their programming responsibility.
The Partner organizations are as follows:
- AIDS Legal Referral Panel
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
- Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach
- Bay Area Legal Aid
- Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco
- La Raza Centro Legal
- Legal Assistance to the Elderly
- Open Door Legal
- Tenderloin Housing Clinic
- The Bar Association of San Francisco (mediation)
"We know having an attorney represent a tenant in court significantly improves their odds of avoiding eviction,” said Martina I. Cucullu Lim, Executive Director of the Eviction Defense Collaborative. “People across the country are seeing and feeling the devastating impact evictions are having on their friends, families, and neighbors – and recognizing the need for change. Tenant Right to Counsel is part of that change. We look forward to working with the City, the Court, our legal service partners, and tenants to show how Tenant Right to Counsel can preserve housing and stabilize communities."