Who We Are
Los Angeles is experiencing an eviction crisis, one which is forcing working class residents out of their neighborhoods, out of the city, and in many cases onto the street. It is a displacement crisis, a homelessness crisis, an equity crisis, and an affordable housing crisis. The implications of large-scale evictions have created a children's crisis, a workers' crisis, an immigrant crisis, and a racial justice crisis.
While the city and county have made progress housing homeless individuals, as soon as we house and shelter our homeless Angelenos, others who are newly homeless replace them.
- The latest LAHSA homeless count shows a 12% increase in the population experiencing homelessness within the County of Los Angeles and a 16% in the city of Los Angeles
To see a difference on the street, we need to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
The best way to do that is to stabilize their current housing. And Right to Counsel is the most effective prevention strategy we have to prevent illegal displacement.
Any homelessness measure, anti-displacement mechanism, or racial equity project is incomplete without eviction prevention.
Our housing system is fundamentally broken, and cannot be fixed through strategies that only emphasize development. The extent of the inequality perpetuated through housing courts cannot be redressed through a temporary initiative or program. We must restructure both to ensure Los Angeles residents have access to safe and affordable housing by empowering renters, increasing fairness in the courts by ensuring due process, and keeping people housed.
What We Do
The Los Angeles Right to Counsel Coalition is made up of tenants, tenant organizing groups and advocates, homeless advocates, academics, and legal services organizations. The coalition formed in June 2018 to call for a Universal Renters’ Right to Counsel for tenants facing eviction, including legal representation, eviction prevention services, and emergency rental assistance. Together the coalition developed a Right to Counsel Proposal for the City of Los Angeles and continues to campaign for
- A codified right to legal representation for all tenants facing eviction in the City and County of Los Angeles
- Eviction prevention services, including targeted tenant outreach and education
- Emergency rental assistance
- Data-driven phase in, prioritizing neighborhoods with greatest needs first. In particular, the low-income communities of color facing mass displacement from Los Angeles
- Fully resourced Phase 1, as proposed by the LA RTC Coalition, including $10 Million in 2019-2020 City Budget
- Complete the phase-in of the Right to Counsel so that tenants living throughout the City and County are covered by the end of 2024
Together, we can stop the displacement of families, the destabilization of our communities, and rising homelessness.
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
Coalition for Economic Survival (CES)
Community Legal Aid SoCal
East LA Community Corporation
Eviction Defense Network
Housing Rights Center
Inquilinos Unidos (IU)
Inner City Law Center
Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN)
Los Angeles Tenants Union
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action
Neighborhood Legal Services
People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER)
SEIU Local 721
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)
Organizational Endorsements Include:
- Abundant Housing LA
- ACLU of Southern California
- Alliance for Justice
- Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
- APAIT - a division of Special Service for Groups
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
- Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County
- Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council
- Bend the Arc Jewish Action: Southern California
- Bet Tzedek Legal Services
- Bickerton for Mar Vista
- California Partnership
- CD Tech
- Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council
- Esperanza Community Housing Corporation
- Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
- Food Chain Workers Alliance
- Freedom Socialist Party
- Hadsell Stormer Renick LLP
- Inglewood Renters Rights
- Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California
- LA Aging Advocacy Coalition
- LA Black Worker Center
- LA Christian Health Center
- LA Forward
- Labor Community Strategy Center
- Loyola Law School
- Loyola Law School, National Lawyer's Guild
- National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles
- NoHo Home Alliance
- Pasadena Tenants Justice Coalition
- People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER)
- Peoples College of Law
- Prevention Institute
- Public Counsel
- SEIU 721
- South Asian Network
- Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA)
- St. Barnabas Senior Services
- Tenants Together So-Cal
- Tenemos Que Reclamar Y Unidos Salvar La Tierra (T.R.U.S.T.) South LA
- Thai Community Development Center
- The Anti-Recidivism Coalition
- The Regenerative Collective
- The United Way of Greater Los Angeles
- UCLA Planners of Color for Social Equity (PCSE)
- Uplift Inglewood
- Venice Community Housing Corporation
- Wage Justice Center
- White People 4 Black Lives
- Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS)
What We Believe
Los Angeles' Right to Counsel for tenants must be a CODIFIED RIGHT, fully resourced by the city and county of Los Angeles, and be a comprehensive policy that includes eviction prevention, public education, legal representation and emergency rental assistance.
- Work towards Universality
- Protect Vulnerable Populations including low income, seniors, and children
- Emphasize Prevention
- Provide Quality Services
- Maintain and Enhance Current Programs
- Center and Engage Tenants in Every Part of Campaign
- Ensure Community Oversight through Advisory Committee
What is Right to Counsel?
Every day the familiar phrase “you have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you” plays across thousands of American televisions from hundreds of legal television shows and films. The 1963 case Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court said that individuals charged with a crime have a right to counsel, made the idea central to the American justice system. Yet, this phrase, belies the reality for millions of cases across the country. This right only applies to criminal, not civil, cases. If a tenant facing eviction cannot afford an attorney, they are on their own.
Tenants’ Right to Counsel would change this reality by providing tenants with eviction prevention services, legal representation, and emergency rental assistance for all low-income tenants in Los Angeles City and County. By conferring a right, Los Angeles would prevent homelessness and keep people housed.
Los Angeles’s Right to Counsel would:
Why this Matters
Right to Counsel is an idea whose time has come. Los Angeles should act now.
By enacting Right to Counsel, Los Angeles would join New York and San Francisco as leaders in taking proactive measures to fight the eviction and displacement crisis, help ensure critical future state funds, and most importantly confer a right to tenants ensuring access to justice in order to strop unjust evictions.
A Roof is a Right
Los Angeles needs a codified RIGHT to counsel for tenants facing eviction
A Right to Counsel is a civil right, connected to the movement for the right to housing, the right to the city and the right to equality and human dignity.
“Right to Counsel cannot just be about meeting numbers—numbers of cases represented, numbers of people served, numbers of homes protected, numbers of dollars saved for every dollar invested, numbers of shelter residents reduced. Those are important numbers, but they cannot be the goal of this initiative. How people are treated must be at the foundation of this—as it is at the foundation of the movement for a Right to Counsel . Increased funding increases the pool of people who get lucky. By contrast, a fully funded and a well implemented Right to Counsel, is a strong step forward in the path towards institutionalizing justice.” Susanna Blankley, RTCNYC Campaign Coordinator
“Merriam-Webster defines a “legal right” as “a claim recognized and delimited by law for the purpose of securing it,” and “the interest in a claim . . . for the infringement of which claim the state provides a remedy in its courts of justice .” It is that enforceability of a remedy in a “court of justice” for violation of a right, that enables a right-holder to derive power from a right, and what distinguishes it from a privilege or a benefit.” Andrew Scherer, Policy Director of the Impact Center for Public Interest Law at New York Law School, Why A Right: The Right to Counsel and Ecology of Housing Justice
Simply increasing funds for legal assistance for people facing eviction is helpful, but it is not enough. It is not enough because it is a benefit conferred by the city, county, or state that can be denied or terminated if political support wanes.
A Right to Counsel will institutionalize justice. By codifying a Right to Counsel, the courtroom will become a place where tenants feel heard and where justice and fairness is served. A Right ensures due process.
A Right to Counsel eliminates unequal power in the courtroom, deters unjust eviction, and extends equal protection under the law. When tenants know they have rights on their side, they will act on those rights.
Tenants will no longer fear reporting housing code violations because they will no longer fear the unjust eviction. A Right to Counsel, therefore, means safer homes. Safer homes mean safer neighborhoods.
A Right to Counsel would tell communities of color, disproportionately impacted by evictions in Los Angeles, that their lives and homes matter under the law. A Right to Counsel says tenants are worthy of being represented, to know their rights and that the law will guarantee their defense.
A Right to Counsel is one critical steps to the right to housing. When one is facing eviction, they are not simply facing the loss of an apartment, they face the loss of home, of safety, of school, of family, and of community. A Right to Counsel shifts culture. Keeps people in their homes and ensures a just, safe, and housed Los Angeles.
“A right not to be deprived of a meaningful opportunity to defend one’s home in the courts because of one’s poverty fosters equality and, in protecting the ability to have a home, protects the ability to exercise many other of the important civil rights, such as the right to vote and the right to equal opportunity in work and education.” Andrew Scherer, Policy Director of the Impact Center for Public Interest Law at New York Law School, Why A Right: The Right to Counsel and Ecology of Housing Justice.