LA County could fund legal assistance for tenants facing eviction

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Los Angeles County residents facing eviction could soon have more resources at their disposal in the fight to stay in their homes. On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl that lays the groundwork for establishing an eviction defense program with the aim of combatting rising rates of homelessness.

Kuehl’s motion notes that 14 percent of homeless residents surveyed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority last year cited eviction or foreclosure as the direct result of homelessness. Meanwhile, 90 percent of those evicted in LA County did not have legal representation, according to the motion.

“In order to reduce homelessness, we must make sure we prevent people from falling into homelessness,” Kuehl said in a press release. “Legal representation plus financial assistance has been shown to prevent or delay households facing eviction from losing their homes.”

Programs already exist to provide eviction defense around Los Angeles, including the Shriver Housing Project, which provides legal assistance to low-income landlords and tenants alike at the Eviction Assistance Center in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

County efforts could greatly expand and reinforce programs like these. The motion notes that in New York, programs providing tenants with legal assistance receive $62 million in annual funding. These efforts, which began in 2013, have resulted in a 24 percent drop in eviction cases since that time.

Now that the board has passed the motion, the County’s Chief Executive Officer will prepare strategies for implementing an eviction defense program and report back in 60 days.

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