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San Diego First Border County To Provide Free Legal Aid To People Facing Deportation

KPBS - San Diego County on Tuesday became the first border county in the nation to establish a program to provide free legal representation to people facing deportation.

In a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors approved the Immigrant Rights Legal Defense Program, a one-year, $5-million pilot program that will provide free legal counsel for deportation cases.

“Our justice system should be based on facts and laws not on access to wealth and resources,” says Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, who brought this proposal to the Board. She says this initiative is about making sure immigrants get “their fair day in court.”

Capitol mum on eviction moratorium extension as renters seek more time

CalMatters - With two months to go before a statewide eviction moratorium expired in January, lawmakers, lobbyists and the governor’s staff were already deep into negotiations on an extension. They reached it just days before the deadline, providing six more months of a ban on eviction. 

Now, with two months left before that extension itself expires on June 30, there is no proposed legislation on giving renters more time before the moratorium ends, and lawmakers expressed uncertainty that there would be. 

“It remains to be seen if there’s appetite in Sacramento to extend the protections past June 30,” said David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who wrote the original eviction moratorium legislation. “But I don’t think any of my colleagues have an interest in seeing a wave of mass evictions.”

County may boost eviction protections

ABC 10 San Diego - Eviction protections across San Diego County could be getting a lot stronger.

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors will consider an ordinance that would place further limits on when a landlord can force a tenant to leave amid the pandemic.

107,000 San Diegans remain out of work more than a year into the Coronavirus outbreak.

Those who can't make the rent because of financial hardship are already protected from eviction through June 30, under state law.

Richmond seeks better protection for tenants harassed, threatened by landlords

East Bay Times - In response to troubling reports of landlords harassing or threatening their tenants, the Richmond City Council voted Tuesday to kickstart a process to create an anti-harassment law to protect renters.

The City Council directed the city attorney’s office to come back in about a month with an ordinance that would specifically lay out what constitutes “harassment” and ban it under city law.

Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, who brought the idea to the council along with Councilmember Melvin Willis, pointed to Oakland’s tenant anti-harassment law as a model to follow.

New data shows that America's rent debt now totals more than $19 billion

News 5 Cleveland - People have fallen behind on their rent during the pandemic.

In addition to the $19 billion rent debt, new data from PolicyLink shows that nearly 6 million households are behind on rent. The data stems from a partnership that aims to not only eliminate that debt but to spark change.

San Diego resident Genea Wall joined forces with tenants' rights advocates who fight eviction. ACCE, or The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, shared their protest video with us. They're working to protect people like Genea, who they believe are falling victim to loopholes in rent relief laws.

How much is rent relief helping Californians?

CalMatters - When Blanca Esthela Trejo, 46, lies down to sleep, what feels like shards of glass stab her back and cut into her lungs — a lingering effect of COVID-19.

“I’d like to be crouched down, hunched over all the time, because the pain is too much,” she said.

But Trejo is foregoing medical treatment because she has put paying the rent on her Salinas apartment above all else — to keep a roof over her three children’s heads.

A state law passed in January extended eviction protections for tenants through June 30, as long as tenants show they lost their income due to COVID-19 and pay a quarter of what they owe.

Editorial: Tenant protections are homeless prevention

LA Times - At the tenant clinics hosted by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action, about 90% of renters who show up seeking help say they’re being harassed by their landlords.

Their stories have a familiar refrain, advocates say. A new owner buys a rent-controlled building and wants to clear out the existing tenants in order to raise the rents. Sometimes the property management company offers cash to get longtime tenants to move out, but the offer is accompanied by intimidation or retaliation. Rent checks are refused. Needed repairs ignored. Baseless eviction cases are filed.

It’s a concerted campaign to get tenants to move out. These actions are often illegal, but there’s little enforcement. Tenants can try to sue their landlord for harassment, but there are a limited number of legal aid lawyers available. Plus, the penalties for harassment are so low that it can be hard to find an attorney willing to take the case.

LA Councilwoman Nithya Raman seeks to strengthen tenant harassment ordinance

LA Daily News - Los Angeles Councilwoman Nithya Raman proposed a set of amendments Tuesday to the draft Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, which the City Council Housing Committee is scheduled to discuss on Wednesday.

“Tenant harassment is a pernicious problem that contributes to gentrification, displacement, and homelessness in Los Angeles, and this law represents an important step in the right direction,” Raman said.

“The amendments I am offering are to ensure that the law reflects the many forms of harassment that our office regularly hears about from tenants and tenants groups, and that the proscribed remedies are sufficient to ensure adequate legal representation and deter such unlawful behavior from occurring in the first place.”

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