Civil Gideon

S.F. Voters Guarantee Lawyers for Evicted Tenants

Tuesday’s California primary election brought good news for renters and tenant activists, and potential headaches for budget hawks as voters approved Proposition F, a new law that will provide a lawyer for every SF tenant facing possible eviction.

According to the proposition’s text:

This measure would require the City to establish, fund and run a program to provide legal representation for all residential tenants in San Francisco whose landlords are attempting to evict them from where they live.

'People Will Sign Anything': How Legal Odds Are Stacked Against the Evicted

Since being evicted from her apartment in New York’s Bronx neighborhood in September, Areletha McLain and her six young children have crammed into a two-bedroom apartment with five relatives. Their belongings are piled up in a corner and the kids sleep doubled-up in bunks scattered throughout the unit.

It is not her first eviction, and they have taken a toll on her children. “When they get comfortable [with a school] and start liking it, that’s when they get taken from it,” she said.

S.F. Tenant Groups To File Petition for Legal Aid for All Tenants Facing Eviction

Tenant advocacy groups are expected to submit 20,000 signatures to the San Francisco Department of Elections today to put a measure on the June ballot to give legal counsel to all renters in the city facing eviction, organizers said.

If the measure passes in the June 5 election, San Francisco would be the first city in California to provide such representation.

"This is history," Jon Golinger, campaign advisor for the No Eviction Without Representation Initiative, said. "This will be a model for other cities."

By Ballot or Board Vote, "Right to Counsel" Will Come to S.F.

San Francisco is likely to provide free legal representation for tenants facing eviction. But in this City’s fractious political climate, the devil’s always in the details.

Following in the footsteps of New York City’s historic Right to Civil Counsel program for eviction proceedings, two competing efforts in San Francisco seek to ensure free legal representation for renters fighting to stay in their homes.

Right to Counsel

Supervisors London Breed and Jeff Sheehy announced a plan Tuesday to offer legal service to renters who are served eviction notices. It’s pitched as a right to civil counsel — similar to that which individuals accused of a crime receive.

Solution to Help Tenants Avoid Eviction Lags in Maryland

For nearly two decades, Judge Marcia Sikowitz has presided over landlord-tenant disputes in one of New York City's busiest housing courts.

In a borough where rapid gentrification has sent rents soaring, Sikowitz says, she has heard it all — and said it all. When a renter who was representing himself in an eviction proceeding would ask her advice, the judge had a rote retort: "I'm not your lawyer and I can't tell you what to do."

For Tenants Facing Eviction, New York May Guarantee a Lawyer

Outside Housing Court in the Bronx, the line invariably winds down the block, snaking past the vendors at tables hawking cellphone plans and by a man selling moving boxes.

Inside, tenants clutching folders of documents, or lugging toddlers on their hips, stagger through the hallways.

On a recent Tuesday morning, the fear and confusion was palpable. Some tenants owed back rent, money they did not have. Two had already received eviction papers but said they had paid their rent, proffering copies of money orders and tattered receipts as proof to anyone who would stop to look.


I am a 55 yr. old permanantely disabled woman who lived in a Section 8 home for 20+ years.  Unfortunately, I was terminated by section 8 unfairly, as there decision did not take my disability, domestic violence, nor my witnesses and proof seriously.  The case was based on my abusers letter to SHRA and would have never happened without it.  I am virtually homeless, (living in a negative enviornment), and the enviroment I am forced to live in has put any healing to a STOP!

Lawyers: Bulwark against Inequality and Gentrification

Lawyers can play many roles, often contributing to economic inequality. They can represent large corporations against their low-wage workers, receive large salaries representing Too Big to Fail Banks, and lobby for tax dodges for billionaires. But they can also work for greater economic equality and to prevent the harshest consequences of racial and gender discrimination.

Help build power for renters' rights: