Member stories featured
-- Southwestern California
Throughout California, but perhaps especially in San Diego, undocumented tenants are in need of legal help when faced with notices and evictions. Thankfully residents in San Diego can turn to Affordable Housing Advocates (AHA). Founded in 1991 as San Diego Friends of Legal Aid, AHA initially raised money and support for the Legal Aid Society of San Diego’s (LASSD) special programs such as “Adopt-a-Building”. Adopt-a-Building worked with tenants of subsidized housing at risk of converting to market rate, to keep it affordable. In 1996, AHA changed its mission to provide legal services in impact and individual cases to fill a void where LASSD faced restrictions due to their LSC funding. Because AHA does not accept LSC funds, they are able to offer representation to undocumented tenants and pursue impact litigation and advocacy.
Tenants’ Rights Project
Over the years, the Tenants’ Rights Project (TRP) has responded to tenants’ needs for representation in individual cases as well as legislative advocacy when many tenants are impacted. For example, TRP worked with tenants and advocacy groups to secure just cause eviction protections for long term tenants in the City of San Diego. These protections are contained in the Tenants’ Right to Know Ordinance. When the condominium craze returned to the region threatening tenants with massive displacement, AHA implemented the Tenants’ Rights Condominium Conversion Project. Under this Project, TRP provided legal assistance to individual tenants and groups of tenants threatened with displacement by conversions. TRP advocated for: changes to local and state laws to limit conversions based on the amount of new rental units developed; clarification of the content and sequence of tenant notices regarding the conversion process; and tenants’ right to receive relocation benefits. Since 2011, TRP has helped implement the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act (AB 590). Known as the Civil Gideon Program, a 6-county pilot program provides counsel to all unrepresented parties when their opponent is represented in eviction and family law cases. TRP accepts tenant referrals, including from Shriver grantee Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc. See http://www.one-justice.org/http://www.courts.ca.gov/15583.htm for more information. Because AHA is not a Shriver sub-grantee, TRP can assist tenants regardless of whether the landlord is represented, and help tenants with matters other than evictions, including defective notices, substandard housing and bad management (unfair business practices).
AHA is passionate about housing because home is not only where the heart is, it is where we get our start in life, where we first learn about our place in the world. To ensure that our clients can find affordable housing throughout the region, AHA advocates for and enforces laws that require planning, funding and development of affordable and inclusive housing. State zoning and land use laws require planning for all housing needs and adoption and implementation of programs to meet the needs. AHA’s Project IMPACT advocates for enforcement of these laws before local jurisdictions, when plans are updated and projects proposed. For decades Project IMPACT enforced State Community Redevelopment Law’s affordable housing obligations, winning Judgments and Settlements in Brea, Carlsbad, Escondido, Poway and San Marcos. AHA’s impact litigation recovered over $100 million for affordable housing development and required the construction of hundreds of additional affordable housing units. AHA’s current county-wide suit, which is on appeal, seeks to ensure fulfillment of all past, unmet affordable housing obligations of the 17 former redevelopment agencies in San Diego.
To learn more about AHA, please visit us at www.affordablehousingadvocates.org
-- Bay Area, California Statewide
The Justice & Diversity Center is a proud member of the Bay Area Resilience Collaborative (BARC) which was formed to give legal assistance in the aftermath of disasters. A group of nonprofits formed BARC in 2015 and worked out a plan to provide legal services together in the Bay Area. The group expected that after a natural disaster, legal aid providers would face a great need for urgent help. The goal was to pave the way to provide coordinated services, as well as quickly direct volunteers who wanted to help.
The October wildfires in Northern California called BARC to action for the first time. BARC acted swiftly within the first week and held daily calls to coordinate assistance for people affected by the fires. Among other things, we launched a hotline to help people with issues such as FEMA claims, public benefits, insurance claims, landlord-tenant questions for rental homes, property damage or loss, and employment.
JDC contributed to the quick efforts to train volunteer attorneys on these topics before they staffed the hotline. Cary Gold, our Landlord-Tenant Supervising Attorney, recorded a training session on key issues for tenants whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
JDC also took on supervision of the hotline which was hosted at the San Francisco-Marin Lawyer Referral & Information Service. During the first two weeks, volunteer attorneys staffed the hotline from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Senior JDC attorneys were always on hand to explain protocol and step in on difficult calls. Then as volunteers staffed the hotline from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., they often consulted with JDC attorneys on how best to address callers’ concerns. Working closely with volunteers, we saw first-hand how willingly they stepped up and gave their time to training then taking calls. Some had personal ties to Sonoma, Napa or the North Bay Area. Some had done pro bono work before while some had not. All were patient and understanding with the understandably upset and anxious people seeking help.
It was also very heartening to experience how quickly BARC member organizations and their lead contacts came together to serve our neighbors. JDC is glad to be a part of this collaborative and contribute what help we could for people impacted by the fires.
LAAC Member Stories List
More LAAC Member Stories
Dec 12, 2017 Justice and Diversity Center (JDC)
Aug 16, 2017 Homeless Action Center (HAC)
Oct 7, 2016
Jul 19, 2016 Elder Law & Advocacy
Jun 15, 2016 Justice in Aging
May 12, 2016 Senior Citizens Legal Services (SCLS)
Apr 18, 2016
Jan 18, 2016 National Center for Youth Law (NCYL)
Dec 21, 2015 Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC)
Nov 30, 2015 Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC)
Oct 30, 2015 Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC)
Sep 3, 2015 California Women’s Law Center (CWLC)