Presentation on theme: "Change From the Inside, Support From the Outside: How A Non-Profit Organization Empowers, Defends, and Supports Tenants Who Demand Healthy Homes Amelia."— Presentation transcript:
Change From the Inside, Support From the Outside: How A Non-Profit Organization Empowers, Defends, and Supports Tenants Who Demand Healthy Homes Amelia Fay-Berquist, Francisco Covarrubias, Javier Beltran INNER CITY LAW CENTER, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
What We Will Cover Today? 1.The Housing Crisis in Los Angeles 2.Working With the Community 3.Legal Counsel and Strategies
Los Angeles: City of Renters Rental Housing 2011: The State of Rental Housing in the City of Los Angeles Underwritten by the Pat Brown Institute and the Economic Roundtable. February 2012, 6 pages. By Daniel Flaming and Patrick Burns, Economic Roundtable c
Los Angeles: High Rents, Low Income Rental Housing 2011: The State of Rental Housing in the City of Los Angeles Underwritten by the Pat Brown Institute and the Economic Roundtable. February 2012, 6 pages. By Daniel Flaming and Patrick Burns, Economic Roundtable c
Los Angeles: LARSO/Rent Control Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance – Limits rent increases – Just-cause evictions – Code Enforcement program Systematic Code Enforcement Complaint-based inspections
Los Angeles: “Evictions” Unlawful Detainers 3/30/60 notice to ____ or quit Cash for keys Lack of repairs Lack of services Harassment Lock outs
Service Referrals Importance of referrals Pooling resources to increase the impact! More than just housing needs Building relationships, increasing trust, having greater access to the big picture Tackling poverty and its many layers ICLC may be the only resource families have
The Power of Tenant Organizing We knock on doors – lots of ‘em! But why would that be important? Hosting Tenant Meetings Is there more than meets the eye? Why all the complaining? Slum housing, code violations, and government intervention A comprehensive approach to an inspection is cost effective and beneficial to both the landlord, tenant, and your city!
Capacity Building Through Organizing The multifaceted role of an organizer Applicable to inspectors, social workers, doctors, etc. Reflection, circular learning, and following the lead of the community Empathy is an integral cornerstone of our work Tackling larger issues of inequality and social justice one door-knock at a time!
Legal Counsel – Working with Tenants to Provide a Shield and Sword for Justice and a Healthier Home
Legal Counsel: 1.SHIELD: Represents low-income tenants in eviction defense actions relating to pre-textual reasons, harassment and retaliation; 2.SWORD: File affirmative habitability lawsuits with possible petition to the court for receivership of slum buildings to force repairs; and 3.SHIELD and SWORD: Preliminary injunctions for tenants facing evictions in affirmative lawsuits.
What Can Legal Counsel do to Achieve a Healthy Home? The Unhealthy Home
Case Study: Los Angeles building lawsuit filed in November 2010 1.Building has 48 units and its located near downtown LA; 2.Many families living in this building with small children; 3.Long term tenants paying below market rent and protected by LA rent control; 4.Bad habitable conditions throughout the building with internal and external problems; 5.Gentrification, new development and revised structures sprouting throughout the surrounding neighborhood; and 6.Relatively new owner rumored to have building remodeled for trendy hotel or lofts.
How Did Legal Counsel Proceed? 1.Assessing the potential lawsuit and interviewing clients a.Should every tenant be retained? 2.Provide immediate representation and advice by retaining tenants as clients. a.Retained 52 tenants in total. At the end of litigation represented 56 tenants in total. 3.File a lawsuit for damages and seek repairs
Legal Counsel What Tools Are Used by Legal Counsel to Achieve a Healthy Home? Court System Advocacy Housing Dept. HOME Federal, State & Local Law County Health Organizers
Aftermath of the Lawsuit (First Punch): Immediate Harassment & Retaliation: against the tenants suing the landlord Posting and Serving of Notices: three day notices to comply, to pay rent or to quit Lock Outs: tenants forcefully locked out of their units without due process or court order Lack of Repairs & Services: slow or failure to repair and services such as water, gas or electricity are turned-off Filing of Unlawful Detainers / Eviction Complaints: landlord attempts to evict tenants based on pre-textual reasons
Legal Counsel Reactions (Counter Punch): Call or Write Opposing Counsel: call landlord’s counsel or write letters to document harassing behavior Respond to Notices: work together with tenant to comply but also document responses and compliance with a letter Call Authorities for Lock Outs: call the police; criminal penalties and civil damages for forceful lock out Call Authorities for Repairs & Services: call police, housing or health dept.; criminal penalties and civil damages Filing of Unlawful Detainers / Eviction Complaints: defend, defend and defend!!!!
Final Results (The Decision): Receivership Placed: Third party receiver controlled the day- to-day operations of the building - Made repairs, fixed long term habitability problems and created plan for pest control. Contentious: Continuous harassment and retaliation by the landlord even after the receiver was placed by the court Litigious: Various motions, discovery (including depositions), meetings with the clients, preparing for trial, and eventually settled a day before trial in August 2012 Damages and Results: 60K for each individual in the household. Healthier home through the receiver’s work and eventual ownership change