FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
With strong votes in the legislature and the Governor’s general support, tenant advocates will continue to push for a legal defense fund for tenants experiencing eviction.
As sponsors of AB 1487, we are disappointed that the Governor has vetoed the bill, which would establish a Homelessness Prevention Fund at the state level. The lack of legal representation for California tenants experiencing eviction is a fundamental fuel for economic and racial inequality. If the state is truly interested in achieving equity, there is no other option but to address this need, which was a problem well before the pandemic. However, we recognize that the reason for the veto was the lack of a specific budget appropriation, and we are glad the Governor’s message recognizes the importance of delivering eviction prevention services to struggling tenants in the most effective, efficient, and successful way possible.
AB 1487 recognizes the need to take a preventative approach to evictions and acknowledges the need for tenants to be represented by counsel. We look forward to continuing our efforts to build on lessons learned in delivering eviction prevention services, and to ensure that state resources dedicated to this purpose are delivered with a recognition of the needs and lived experience of struggling renters. We are proud to have advanced AB 1487 through both houses of the legislature with a strong endorsement of the policy and the ongoing need it seeks to address, and we thank Assembly member Gabriel for his strong leadership in authoring this bill.
The need for increased resources and enhanced delivery of services in preventing avoidable evictions is long-standing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it especially clear. The eviction process in California and the protections our state has chosen to put in place for tenants are complex, operate on very short timelines, and have extreme consequences for those forced to navigate them without assistance. While landlords overwhelmingly have the benefit of an attorney in evictions, the vast majority of tenants do not, forcing them to do their best to assert their rights, respond to court documents, and participate in the process on their own.
This situation pre-dates the pandemic, and the need to address the dynamic is made clearer by the reality that millions of tenants who are behind on rent, through no fault of their own, are currently navigating a complex set of court protections and doing their best to apply for rental assistance at the same time. Outreach and education, coupled with legal assistance when problems arise, is incredibly important as millions of tenants navigate these unnecessarily complex systems or face the prospect of homelessness.
Measures like AB 1487 are preventative medicine for California’s housing crisis, and we must recognize that the best way to prevent evictions is to utilize the strength of community-based outreach organizations, legal service providers, and local governments so tenants and landlords are aware of their rights and responsibilities and can successfully resolve issues before they lead to eviction.
We need a permanent solution to ensure every Californian has the resources and support they need to remain housed and prevent homelessness as they navigate the complex eviction system. AB 1487 would ensure that the protections California’s Legislature and administration put in place translate to real, enforceable rights. We look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor in the coming year to make sure renters across the state can successfully assert their rights, and that California communities benefit from the increased housing security and stability a Homelessness Prevention Fund can provide.
Thank you to the many coalition partners and allies across the state that led and contributed to this campaign. Over 80 organizations endorsed the bill.
Press Contact: Sasha Harnden, Public Policy Advocate, Inner City Law Center, aharnden[at]innercitylaw.org – (habla español)