RIGHT TO COUNSEL
WHAT IS RIGHT TO COUNSEL?
A right to counsel ordinance would provide free legal counsel to all low-income tenants along with a suite of permanently-funded services that make the right a reality. The services needed to implement a right to counsel include
- Legal representation for low-income families
- Community education through workshops & clinics
- Targeted outreach to build tenant power
- Emergency rental assistance
Evictions Result from Unequal Power
- 90% of tenants facing eviction DO NOT have representation from an attorney. While 90% of landlords DO have lawyers in eviction proceedings.
- When tenants are not represented by an attorney, they almost always lose, even if they have a valid legal defense.
- Eviction cases are complicated, move fast and are highly technical; it is very difficult, if not impossible, to successfully defend an eviction case without a lawyer.
- Nearly 75% of eviction cases are resolved within 45 days of filing.
- When tenants have legal representation, they achieve far more beneficial outcomes than tenants without representation. Rights without an ability to assert them are empty
It Must Be A Right
Right to Counsel has been found by independent studies to be a highly cost-effective mechanism to prevent homelessness.
Right to Counsel equals quantifiable savings on:
- Shelter Costs
- Mental Health Services Costs
- Inpatient Hospital Costs
- Emergency Room Costs
- Administrative Costs associated with eviction filings and UD court proceedings
THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT
Right to Counsel is a National Movement
Right to Counsel laws are sweeping the nation. This is a national movement and Los Angeles should be next.
In 2017, the New York City Council passed the first tenant right to counsel law. In the June 2018 primary, San Francisco voters mandated the city government to establish a universal tenant right to counsel law. Newark codified the right to free legal counsel and created a new office of tenant legal services in 2018. Philadelphia, Cleveland, Washington DC, Detroit, Providence; the states Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Minnesota are joining this movement. Los Angeles should be next.