For Fair Housing Month and Affordable Housing Week, this month's newsletter focuses on housing rights issues.
San Jose Tenants File Lawsuit for Fraudulent Owner Move-In
Access to legal representation during eviction proceedings greatly improves the outcomes for tenants because it balances out the unfair power dynamics between renters and landlords. Many of our low-income neighbors don't have equal access to justice to protect themselves and their right to a safe, stable home. In April, our attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of four families who were evicted last year. The landlord cited a permitted reason, owner family move-in. After 8 months, no relatives had moved in. Rather, new tenants moved in, all paying upwards of $1,000 more in rent per month. The lawsuit puts landlords on notice that the relatively new Tenant Protection Ordinance in San Jose must be followed. Read more.
IN THE MEDIA
Stop the Criminalization of Homelessness
The Law Foundation partnered with the ACLU of Northern California to write a letter to the Mountain View City Council demanding it stop advancing unconstitutional proposals that would further criminalize homelessness by banning the parking of oversized vehicles. Often, oversized vehicles, like RV's, are the only affordable option left for some long-time residents. Read more.
IN THE MEDIA
Fighting Eviction & Reinstating Housing Vouchers
"Dealing with the staff at the Law Foundation was very fulfilling and provided me a sense of freedom knowing they were taking care of issues." - James Richard
San Jose is one of the most competitive housing markets in the U.S., which makes it difficult for families and individuals struggling to make ends meet to find safe and affordable housing. One way that low-income families find housing is through voucher programs, such as the Section 8 program, where low-income tenants pay roughly 30 percent of their income toward rent and the remaining is paid by a government agency. The ultimate goal is to eliminate concentrations of poverty and provide low-income households with access to affordable housing.
James Richard was facing eviction after his housing voucher was terminated because his disability prevented him from submitting required documents on time. Law Foundation attorney Anam Hasan represented James to fight the unfair eviction, which included connecting him with community partners for rent assistance. Community worker Stephanie Leo wrote a letter to the Housing Authority to request a reasonable accommodation because of his disability. In this case, we asked for additional time for James to submit the appropriate paperwork needed to be in compliance with his housing voucher, which was successfully reinstated last week. Fighting unfair evictions and gaining disability accommodations for our clients directly prevents homelessness and empowers our clients to obtain justice through the legal system.
Our Unique Community Worker Model
The Law Foundation receives about 140 calls per month for housing assistance. While we can't provide full legal representation for everyone, our community workers increase our impact by providing different types of shorter-term assistance that give our neighbors the best chance at keeping or finding housing, including requests for extended time to move out or relocation assistance.
Community workers represent clients at administrative hearings that don't require a lawyer, write letters to landlords, and answer questions that preserve tenants' rights in court. They are the key connection to the community and keep a close eye on what is happening on the ground. For example, they conduct "know your rights" presentations, partner with our client communities on critical issues like tenant protections, help with investigations for potential litigation, and translate and interpret in Spanish and Vietnamese at community events and meetings.
We couldn't deliver on our mission without their important work.
In Case You Missed It
Thank you for joining us at our annual Celebration of Justice on April 25, 2019. Our event was a huge success! Thank you to our Annual Partners, whose commitment to our work advances justice in our community. Click here to check out the photos and click here to watch the video to learn how we empower people to make historic change, to make future change, or to be leaders in the change they want to see.
Re-live the Win of Tenant Protections in San Jose
As Affordable Housing Week wraps up, we look back at the historic victory of the passage of the Tenant Protection Ordinance in San Jose. We partnered with community members impacted by unfair evictions to advocate for Just Cause protections in San Jose. By empowering our neighbors to tell their stories, we were able to make long-lasting change that affects hundreds of thousands of people in San Jose. Watch here.
CEO Alison Brunner Named Woman of Influence
The Silicon Valley Business Journal recognized Law Foundation CEO Alison Brunner as one of the 2019 Women of Influence, honoring her deep commitment to social justice in Silicon Valley and recognizing her as a leader at the forefront of the regional housing crisis. Read here.
Did you know that we have a weekly eviction clinic, staffed by pro bono attorneys?
Last year, the Law Foundation assisted more than 2,000 people facing eviction. The Law Foundation hosts a weekly clinic at our office in downtown San Jose where pro bono volunteers provide clients with legal advice and assist them in drafting a response to the Eviction Complaint. Pro bono attorneys can also represent a tenant throughout the eviction process by assisting in negotiations and at trial.
To learn more or express interest, email firstname.lastname@example.org.