“The Western Center on Law & Poverty has said the arrest and rehab plan would “take California back into the dark ages of mass institutionalization of people with perceived or real mental illness. Such zero tolerance approaches only exacerbate racial and class disparities through an overly aggressive criminal justice system.”
“The new law generally does not apply to units that are already subject to a local rent control ordinance. However, a unit could be exempt from a local ordinance but subject to the new state law, said Sasha Harnden, a housing policy advocate with the Western Center on Law and Poverty.”
Op-ed co-authored by Western Center housing attorney Matt Warren.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Case marks beginning of enforcement measures for new tenant protections
DALY CITY — A Daly City landlord has withdrawn eviction notices for dozens of families after a tenant association, Familias Unidas en Daly City (Familias), filed a lawsuit to halt the evictions. The notices were sent just after the legislature passed AB 1482, otherwise known as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which protects roughly eight million tenants in California from unreasonable rent increases and unfair evictions. The families will now remain in their homes over the holidays and enjoy greater stability in the future.
Shortly after the passage of the Tenant Protection Act, the landlord issued notices to at least 25 tenant families demanding that they move out for no reason. Those who were threatened with eviction include low-income families who have lived in their apartments for decades, elderly individuals, and people with disabilities who rely on fixed incomes. The notices initially demanded that tenants leave their homes in the middle of the school year, right before the holidays, even though tenants had paid rent on time and complied with their leases.
“With the passage of the Tenant Protection Act, California tenants finally have some security knowing that they will not be displaced from their homes without a fair reason,” said Madeline Howard, attorney at Western Center on Law & Poverty. “We couldn’t stand by while this landlord violated new protections so flagrantly and with such callous disregard for the tremendous hardship their actions would cause.”
Familias’ filed a lawsuit to halt the evictions, making it the first affirmative lawsuit filed by tenants to enforce new protections under the Tenant Protection Act. Shortly after the suit was filed, the landlord began negotiations and eventually withdrew the notices.
This case highlights the value of California’s new renter protections, as well as the need for steadfast enforcement to ensure tenants can access these new rights.
“This is something of a bellwether for what we may see in the coming months,” said Shirley Gibson, attorney at the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County. “It’s important to show how the Tenant Protection Act is playing out on the ground, and for tenants to know that with its passage, when they stand up for their rights, they can win and remain in their homes.”
Courtney McKinney: cmckinney[at]wclp.org
Shirley Gibson, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, SGibson[at]legalaidsmc.org
Madeline Howard, Western Center on Law & Poverty, mhoward[at]wclp.org
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto is a nonprofit law firm offering free legal services that improve the lives of low-income families throughout the Bay Area. CLSEPA pursues lasting change for our clients using multiple, innovative strategies, including community education, individual legal advice and representation, legal assistance to community groups, policy advocacy, and impact litigation.
The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County has been fighting social injustice through civil legal advocacy for people living in poverty since 1959. The vision of LASSMC is for every person to have the basic necessities of life, including safe affordable housing, access to health care, economic security, secure immigration status, an appropriate education and freedom from violence and abuse. LASSMC strives to empower people to overcome the causes and effects of poverty so they can participate in their community with dignity and respect. We seek to remove barriers related to poverty, disability, race, language, age, gender, sexual orientation and immigration status through community education, legal representation, systemic advocacy and collaboration with community partners.
Western Center on Law & Poverty fights for justice and system-wide change to secure housing, health care, racial justice and a strong safety net for low-income Californians. Western Center attains real-world, policy solutions for clients through litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, and technical assistance and legal support for the state’s legal aid programs. Western Center is California’s oldest and largest legal services support center.
Note: Back in July we reported that the County of Humboldt was planning to buy a block of property on Fourth Street in Eureka, near the county jail, and tear down the block’s homes and taco shop in order to build a parking lot.
Those plans have been delayed. At this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, there was an item on the consent calendar noting that acquisition of the Fourth Street properties was being deferred due to “issues relating to the tenants and occupants residing at these real properties.”
Himmelrich, a staff attorney for the the non-profit Western Center on Law & Poverty, noted that a program in New York City that offered legal counsel to threatened tenants avoided 30 percent of evictions.
She said 95 percent of tenants threatened with eviction lose in court if they don’t have a lawyer and noted that the existing “patchwork system” of attorneys that offer free legal representation is fraying.
“People need lawyers, and they aren’t getting them, and they’re having trouble finding them,” Himmelrich said.
California’s governor on Wednesday blamed the Trump administration for withholding data that is blocking the release of $650 million in state aid to combat homelessness.
California’s cities and counties have been waiting since June for the money approved by the state Legislature. But state law says the money can only be distributed based on federally approved homelessness counts for 2019.
Most California communities submitted their homeless counts months ago. But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has not yet approved them.
…“I think it worries all of us that t hey are somehow trying to politicize the numbers or use them for some political purpose,” said Anya Lawler, a policy advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
After an 11-hour meeting and a tense 6-5 vote, the San Jose City Council voted Tuesday to water down provisions to its rent control laws in an effort to please developers who say that such measures place a burden on housing projects.
Previously, demolishing a rent-controlled building meant that any new building constructed in San Jose had to include at least as many rent-controlled units as the building prior or that at least half of a new structure’s units be rent-controlled, whichever number was greater.
But after this week’s vote, building owners can apply for a waiver if their new building has just 15 percent affordable homes and the owners offer old tenants the chance to return paying the original rent price.