What Could Assembly Bill 1487 Mean to California Tenants Facing Eviction?

The perfect storm of evictions is coming. Expiring COVID-19 rent relief programs, an increasing shortage of affordable rentals, rising monthly rents and a sputtering lower-wage job market threaten vulnerable tenants’ ability to remain in their homes.

80-90% of tenants facing eviction proceedings lack legal representation. Only 6% of these prevail in court according to The Center for American Progress. Landlords are typically represented by legal counsel, resulting in a very uneven playing field that puts vulnerable households at risk.

What’s California Doing About Right to Counsel?

San Francisco was the first city in California to require legal counsel for tenants. Proposition F (or the “No Eviction Without Representation Act”) was approved by voters in 2018.  $5.8 million was allocated for the 2-year program; legal counsel was then funded for 50 lawyers from 11 different agencies to work solely on eviction cases. Progress was made, but the total need couldn’t possibly be met.

How will Assembly Bill 1487 Help?

Now, AB 1487 offers a potential new, statewide eviction defense program – “The Homeless Prevention Fund.” The bill is authored by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel and would be funded from legislature appropriation. Nonprofits, local governments and agencies would receive funds from the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission, a program of the State Bar of California.

For tenants, AB 1487 could be a lifeline, if and when it passes. When tenants facing eviction are represented by legal counsel, 2 out of 3 tenants stay in their homes. Catastrophic disruption of families, jobs and education is avoided, and the social fabric is strengthened.

Who will Assembly Bill 1487 Directly Help?

Nearly 13.2 million adults (1 in 5) are currently running behind on rent due to the pandemic. Of California’s 17 million renters, 2 million are currently at risk of eviction. 75% of these are people of color, who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. AB 1487 is intended to assist:

  • Black and brown families
  • Low and middle-income households who are “rent burdened”
  • Individuals living below federal poverty guidelines
  • Elderly and disabled households

Who Else will Benefit?

Everyone. In addition to increased housing stability for tenants facing eviction, an estimated $4.50 is saved with every dollar spent on eviction defense. AB 1487 will be heard on the Assembly floor in the months ahead. If you are facing eviction now, seek legal help through an agency or work directly with a tenant attorney.

Know Your Rights. Protect Yourself.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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