by Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service
Most renters facing eviction lack access to legal counsel, and because of that, are set up to fail, says a new analysis.
The Center for American Progress brief found nationwide, about 90% of landlords have legal representation in eviction cases, while only 10% of tenants do.
According to University of Washington research, more than 130,000 adults in the state were evicted between 2013 and 2017.
Seattle attorney Andrew Ackley said even with favorable state laws on their side, renters still struggle to afford representation in Washington.
“Facing the prospect of not just having to get caught up on rent, but also legal fees, people are pinched almost from the start, to the point that some of them don’t even bother,” Ackley said. “And they take a weaker position, settle for really less than they’re entitled to – and essentially, are at the whim of landlords.”
The University of Washington research noted evictions, along with the housing affordability crisis, are contributing to the state’s rising homelessness rate, now at its highest level since the Great Recession. Evictions also disproportionately affect people of color.
Heidi Schultheis, senior policy analyst for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the brief, said an attorney can help a renter in a number of ways, such as negotiating additional time for them to move.
Critically, she noted, evictions stay on a person’s credit report for seven years, and legal counsel can ensure a filing doesn’t go onto their records.
“Landlords can and do discriminate against tenants with eviction filings on their records, even when the filing didn’t actually result in an eviction,” Schultheis said. “Even if the tenant goes on to win their case, that filing will go on your credit report.”
Unlike criminal matters, defendants in civil cases aren’t constitutionally guaranteed legal representation. But some cities have passed rights to counsel for evictions, and Schultheis said these cities are saving money.
In New York City, renters with incomes at or below 200% of the poverty line are ensured legal representation. She said the city did a cost-benefit analysis of this policy.
“Based almost entirely on the savings that would accrue to the homeless services system, after the cost of providing legal counsel for tenants in eviction cases, the city would save $320 million every year,” she said.
The CAP report is online at AmericanProgress.org.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service
LA County Supervisors Propose $3000 in Pandemic Rent Assistance
LOS ANGELES (NBC Los Angeles) — County supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis proposed Thursday an emergency rent-assistance program for up to $1,000 a month for three months to renters affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we fight the spread of this virus and do everything we can to save lives, this crisis has devastated families who were already living on the brink of poverty,” Hahn said. “The eviction moratorium we have in place has provided some relief, but many families are going to struggle to pay back the rent they owe after this crisis is over.”
Even with the Board of Supervisors’ action to halt evictions for people who can’t pay rent because they haven’t been able to work, renters will still […]
Los Angeles City Council Meetings Cancelled, Surprising Activists
by Patrick Range McDonald, Housing is a Human Right
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez (pictured) has cancelled council meetings for the rest of March, surprising activists seeking critical relief measures to help vulnerable residents. Activists are now urging Martinez to hold an emergency meeting to pass such protections as a rent freeze and mortgage suspension.
“It’s extremely disappointing and, frankly, an abdication of responsibility for the City Council to go dark with millions of Angelenos confronting a pandemic,” says Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya. “April 1st is coming. Rents and mortgages will be due. Our City Council should work round the clock to ensure income stability, housing. and peace of mind for all.”
Martinez claims the reason for the sudden cancellation is that the City Council is not yet ready to hold remote meetings, according to the Los Angeles Times. That, in itself, is alarming — the second largest city in the nation is facing a pandemic, but the Los Angeles City Council hasn’t figured out how to hold remote meetings. And the council won’t figure it out, apparently, for weeks.
So far, in Los Angeles County, according to the county public health department, there have been 662 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11 deaths. In L.A., confirmed cases have been found in, among other neighborhoods, Brentwood (31), the Melrose area, (26), Hollywood (19), North Hollywood (10), and Sherman Oaks (10).
Healthy LA Coalition, a citywide coalition of more than 150 organizations, has been pressing the Los Angeles City Council to quickly approve protections, including rent forgiveness and mortgage suspension, a moratorium on evictions, a rent freeze, emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance, and other items.
“As COVID-19 triggers a national state of emergency, and a statewide call to stay home and stay sheltered, many Angelenos are forced to put their health on the line simply to keep a roof over their heads,” the coalition wrote in a statement. “In this precarious time, it’s crucial that [City Council members’] next actions be bold, decisive, and for the good of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.”
“Our own health depends on the health of the person next to us, and the person next to them,” the coalition wrote. “Ensuring every Angeleno’s access to the space, resources, and health services they need is how we take care of each other. Our local governments’ actions must reflect this essential truth and rise to the scale of this enormous challenge. This is not the time for half-steps or hesitation. Now is the moment to protect the most vulnerable. When we do that, we protect everyone.”
Patrick Range McDonald was a longtime staff writer at L.A. Weekly, where he won numerous awards. He’s now an advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.
(Reprinted with permission)
WeHo Updates on Renter Hardships and Eviction Moratorium
City’s Eviction Moratorium Urgency Ordinance Applies to Nonpayment Eviction Notices and Unlawful Detainer Actions Served or Filed on or After March 16, 2020; Ordinance Will Remain in Effect for 60 Days and May Be Extended
WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood is making every effort to respond to community needs during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency and Safer at Home Los Angeles County Order. The City of West Hollywood approved an Urgency Ordinance on Monday, March 16 that protects renters with a temporary moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent during the current state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This Ordinance applies to nonpayment eviction notices served or filed on or after March 16, 2020 and remains in effect for 60 days, unless extended. There will be no evictions for lack of rent if due to COVID-19 financial impact.
A link to complete information is available on the City of West Hollywood’s website at www.weho.org/coronavirus by clicking Renter Resources. Additional details about housing information and resources are available at www.weho.org/rent and questions about rental assistance may be directed to the City of West Hollywood’s Social Services Division at (323) 848-6510.
The following is what affected tenants must do to be covered under the Ordinance:
- Notify landlords in writing within 30 days of the rental due date of inability to pay rent. Notification “in writing” includes email or text communications to a landlord or the landlord’s representative with whom the tenant has previously corresponded by email or text. Any medical or financial information provided to the landlord shall be held in confidence, and only used for evaluating the tenant’s claim.
- State the ways in which they have been financially impacted, this can include:
- Caring for myself or family member who is sick with COVID-19
- Lay-off, loss of hours, or other income reduction resulting from business closure or other economic or employer impacts of COVID-19
- Compliance with a recommendation from a government health authority to stay home, self- quarantine, or avoid congregating with others during the state of emergency
- Extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Child care needs arising from school closures related to COVID-19
- Provide documentation, which can include:
- COVID-19 positive test result documentation
- Letter, email, or texts related to lay-off, loss of hours or other income reduction
- Health authority communication about recommendation to stay home, self-quarantine, etc.
- Medical bills
- Receipts/invoices of child-care costs
The following is information for landlords about affected tenants covered under the Ordinance:
Landlords are not allowed to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent if the tenant demonstrates inability to pay rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19. A landlord who has been notified of lost income and inability to pay full rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19 — and has been provided with documentation in writing within 30 days after the date that rent is due seek to evict for nonpayment of rent. A template of a letter for tenants to notify residents is available at: https://www.weho.org/home/showdocument?id=44086
The Ordinance does not relieve the tenant from eventually paying the rent; rent will be due within six months after the expiration of the local emergency. The landlord may not charge a late fee on the rent. The ordinance is intended to be narrow and no other legal remedies available to the landlord are affected.
The following community organizations assist community members with housing resources in the City of West Hollywood:
Limited Rental Assistance
- Aid for AIDS (Alliance for Housing & Healing) (323) 656-1107 — Provides financial assistance to persons living with HIV/AIDS to pay for rent, utilities and pharmaceuticals. The Alliance for Housing and Healing Aging in Place Program provides supplemental rental assistance to all older adults residing in the City of West Hollywood who are experiencing a rent burden.
- National Council of Jewish Women (323) 852-7036 — Provides non-sectarian and non-gender-specific rental assistance to West Hollywood residents. Leave a message and your call will be returned.
Free or Low-Cost Legal Resources
- Bet Tzedek Legal Services Legal Services | (323) 549-5841 | www.bettzedek.org
Legal Aid including representation in evictions court. Call for an appointment.
- Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) — For legal support, please e-mail contactCES@earthlink.net. In the email provide your name, phone number, address, whether your unit is rent stabilized or not, and a short summary of the issue. A representative will call you. Weekly Tenant Rights Clinics in Plummer Park are closed until further notice
- Eviction Defense Network | (213) 385-8112 | www.evictiondefensenetwork.org
Representation for LA County tenants facing eviction as long as they seek assistance at least one week before the trial. Fees are based on a sliding scale, but no one is turned away for lack of funds.
- Los Angeles County Bar Association — Lawyer Referral and Info Service (213) 243-1525 | www.lacba.org
This referral service is a nonprofit public service that allows members of the public to find a qualified attorney and get general information about common legal issues. There is no cost to access information through the service and there is no fee to get a referral to an attorney.
· Disability Rights California | (800) 776-5746 | http://www.disabilityrightsca.org — Advocates, educates, investigates, and litigates to advance and protect the rights of Californians with disabilities.
· Housing Rights Center | (800) 477-5977 | http://www.hrc-la.org — Their mission is to actively support and promote fair housing through education, advocacy and litigation, to the end that all persons have the opportunity to secure the housing they desire and can afford without discrimination.
The City of West Hollywood continues to urge community members to follow the LA County Department of Public Health’s Safer at Home Order, which went into effect Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. The Order will remain in effect until April 19, 2020, and may be extended. The Order was issued concurrently with orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom calling upon all individuals living in the State of California to stay home in order to reduce transmission of coronavirus.
West Hollywood City Hall is currently closed to the public and is suspending all in-person transactions. All public City buildings and facilities are closed. City Hall will remain accessible for business and essential services with transactions to be conducted by phone (323) 848-6400 and via the City’s website at www.weho.org.
The City of West Hollywood coronavirus updates are available at www.weho.org/coronavirus and the City encourages community members to follow @wehocity on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and turn on notifications for up-to-date information regarding details in the City of West Hollywood.
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This Just In…
- County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family
- Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day
- WeHo Webinar: Loneliness, Isolation, Depression, and Anxiety During Pandemic
- Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions
- White House Gift Shop Selling Coronavirus Commemorative Coins
- Joe Exotic Prison Has 2nd Highest ‘Rona Rate
- Beverly Hills Votes To Resume Plastic Surgery Despite Coronavirus Pandemic