All about the right to counsel for tenants in San Francisco
While a state may have many statutes, court decisions, or court rules governing appointment of counsel for a particular subject area, a "Key Development" is a statute/decision/rule that prevails over the others (example: a state high court decision finding a categorical right to counsel in guardianships cases takes precedence over a statute saying appointment in guardianship cases is discretionary).
06/01/2021, Legislation, Housing - Evictions
Update: CIty increases investment in right to counsel.
After initially facing a budget cut due to COVID-19, the City of San Francisco increased its investment by nearly $7 million to $16 million total.
Update: Supervisor Preston holds hearing on RTC law, and powerful success of program is revealed.
On February 24, 2020, there was a hearing on San Francisco’s eviction right to counsel program. It was convened by Dean Preston, who was one of the principal architects of Prop F and who is now a City Supervisor. At the hearing, some powerful statistics on the success of the program were heard, such as:
- A 10% decrease in the filing rate from 2018 to 2019;
- Of the two-thirds of tenants receiving full-scope representation at this point, 67% are able to stay in their homes (including 80% for African-American tenants);
- Despite the lack of an income limit, 85% of those receiving counsel are extremely low or low income, 9% are moderate income, and 6% are just above moderate income.
Update: Christian Science Monitor looks at rollout of program
The Christian Science Monitor took an in-depth look at how rollout of Prop F is going in San Francisco, and features some powerful stories from tenants.
Update: City appropriates funding for Prop F
The San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly report that San Francisco Mayor London Breed has set aside $1.9 million this fiscal year and $3.9 million in the 2019-2020 fiscal year in order to implement Prop F.
Update: Prop F is now law!
On June 5, 2018, voters in San Francisco approved Prop F by a vote of 56% to 44%! The San Francisco Chronicle, SF Weekly, Curbed San Francisco, Next City, San Francisco Attorney Magazine, and the Stranger (Seattle) have more, and you can also check out the press release from the SF Right to Counsel Committee. San Francisco thus joins New York City in guaranteeing counsel for tenants in evictions, with the difference being that the San Francisco law has no income limit.
A coalition of tenant groups and advocates called the SF Right to Counsel Committee filed a ballot initiative (known as "Prop F") to guarantee a right to counsel for all tenants (not just low-income tenants) facing eviction. The proposal referred to the recent establishment of an eviction right to counsel in New York City. 48hills has more, and proponents set up a website for the ballot initiative. Also, an ordinance co-sponsored by the President of the Board of Supervisors was introduced that would guarantee counsel in housing cases.
The introduction of the ballot initiative and ordinance were covered by the San Francisco Chronicle, CBS, SF Weekly, Curbed San Francisco,the Bay City Beacon, KALW (audio), and the San Francisco Public Press.
Both of these initiatives come in the wake of the City's 2012 ordinance declaring its intention to become the nation's first "right to civil counsel city", as well as a pilot project that expanded representation in certain types of housing cases via increased pro bono participation (read the report of the pilot project's final results).
If "yes", the established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including any of: the only authority is a lower/intermediate court decision or a city council, not a high court or state legislature; there has been a subsequent case that has cast doubt; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all types of individuals or proceedings within that category.
Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes
The NCCRC authored and filed a ballot statement in support of the initiative.