February 23, 2024 3:20 pm

LA City Leaders Contemplate Legislation and Program Granting Right to Counsel for Renters

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council is set to vote on proposals that would institute a right to counsel program and formalize legal defense safeguards for renters at risk of eviction.

Before the council’s deliberation, housing advocates and Keep LA Housed coalition members plan to hold a news conference at 8:30 a.m. outside City Hall. They aim to voice support for the right to counsel, emphasizing the urgency of addressing rent debt. The Eviction Defense Program, initiated in July 2021, provided legal aid to renters facing eviction with a one-time fund of $63 million approved by the council.

The upcoming recommendations include an ordinance granting the right to counsel to eligible tenants, a five-year phased plan for citywide service implementation, and additional funding for staffing the program. The United to House ULA measure, approved by voters in November 2022, ensures a permanent funding source for expanding the program citywide.

If given approval, the program’s first year estimates support for 2,500 tenants facing eviction, gradually scaling to meet an expected demand of 10,000 cases by the end of the phase. The proposed rollout prioritizes the most vulnerable ZIP codes in the initial three years. Notably, cities like New York City, San Francisco, Newark, Cleveland, and Philadelphia have already established civil right to legal representation for tenants.

The Housing and Homeless Committee of the L.A. City Council previously endorsed these recommendations in November.