SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Mayor London Breed revealed $5.8 million in additional funding for the next two years to provide legal defense services for tenants facing eviction. The funds are in addition to the $7.5 million San Francisco already spends on eviction prevention services.
“One of the most important things we can do to prevent displacement and homelessness is keep people housed in the first place,” said Mayor Breed. “I am a lifelong renter and I know what it is like to face housing insecurity. I fought to include this funding in the budget because no one should face eviction alone without knowing their rights.”
According to a news release from the Mayor’s website, San Francisco now spends over $10 million each year on tenant protections—with about $6.3 million aimed towards legal services, including full-scope legal representation.
“It’s important that we are making great strides to protect renters facing eviction. We now have the necessary resources to fund eviction defense for our most vulnerable neighbors with the recently passed budget,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown. “Thank you Mayor Breed for working with the Board of Supervisors to ensure this critical first step is funded. I hope the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor will continue to work as partners to advance additional programs to help San Francisco renters.”
Voters passed Proposition F in June 2018, which gives residential tenants who are facing eviction in San Francisco the right to legal representation. Proposition F did not create a funding source for its implementation, Mayor Breed worked with the SF 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 fund an unprecedented expansion of legal services.
“After years of seeing the devastating impact the housing crisis is having on our communities—with children being uprooted from their schools and homes, longtime residents being pushed out of San Francisco, and people’s health impaired by the stress of housing instability—we look forward to working with the Mayor and City staff to bring right to counsel to San Francisco’s tenants,” said Martina I. Cucullu Lim, Executive Director of the Eviction Defense Collaborative.
“For 30 years, the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco has rooted much of its work in the belief that housing is a basic human need and has been providing free representation to hundreds of tenants every year who are faced with eviction,” said Yolanda Jackson, Executive Director of the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco. “And yet, our work has left us keenly aware of the gaps that remain, and the number of tenants who have faced the loss of their home without the benefit of legal representation. Today, we are committed to do whatever we can to see right to counsel in eviction cases become a reality in San Francisco. We are excited to continue to partner with the City to play a role in providing this vital community service.”
“At Legal Assistance to the Elderly, a typical client is in their 70s or older, has lived in their apartment for 20, 30, even 60 years, and spends 60-90 percent of their fixed income on rent. For this tenant, an eviction means homelessness and having an attorney can mean saving their home,” said Laura Slade Chiera, Executive Director of Legal Assistance to the Elderly. “Legal Assistance to the Elderly’s partnership with the City has allowed us to triple the number of eviction defense cases we take, but the need is still great. We are excited to continue this partnership with the City as we make tenant right to counsel a reality.”
San Francisco is the first city in California and the second city in the United States of America to offer full scope legal defense services for tenants facing eviction. Mayor Breed signed the two-year budget for the city and county of San Francisco into law on August 1.