SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) There currently exists in the State of California a housing and homelessness crisis.
(b) According to the 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, California has at least 151,278 individuals experiencing homelessness on any given day.
(c) The COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout are threatening to worsen the situation as Californians face possible eviction due to job losses, decreased work hours, and unpaid rent.
(d) Residential evictions have contributed to the housing
and homelessness crisis by exacerbating community instability and displacing households from existing housing. For example, research indicates that a household that has experienced an eviction or received an eviction notice in the past is at significantly increased risk of becoming homeless.
(e) Representation in the judicial eviction process is extremely imbalanced. For example, 90 percent of landlords nationwide benefit from legal representation in eviction proceedings, while only 10 percent of tenants are able to secure legal assistance in evictions. In a recent national poll, 64 percent of voters from all political backgrounds supported funding legal services to prevent evictions.
(f) Evidence demonstrates that increasing the availability of legal resources to tenants facing eviction leads to the avoidance of displacement in many instances.
(g) In addition, providing legal assistance and eviction prevention services to tenants can drastically improve outcomes, has demonstrated economic benefits, and can generate significant cost savings to public agencies. For example:
(1) A study of a proposed Right to Counsel program in the City of Los Angeles found that, for every $1 invested, the program would generate returns of approximately $3.48 to the City of Los Angeles and $4.80 to the County of Los Angeles. The analysis found that this return on investment would be generated primarily by the avoidance of public costs related to shelter and housing programs, school funding, health care, and foster care, and that a Right to Counsel program could provide numerous additional, unquantifiable benefits.
(2) A study of the City of Philadelphia’s Right to Counsel
program found that while only 22 percent of unrepresented tenants were able to avoid displacement from their homes through eviction, 95 percent of tenants with representation were able to stay in their homes, and represented tenants were twice as likely to receive a favorable judgment.
(3) A recent evaluation of the City of San Francisco’s Right to Counsel program found that 67 percent of tenants who received representation through that program were able to stay in their homes, including 80 percent of African American tenants.
(4) A recent report on the City of New York’s Right to Counsel program found that in ZIP Codes where it was implemented, 84 percent of represented tenants were able to stay in their homes. In these ZIP Codes, evictions have declined 29 percent.
(5) Numerous jurisdictions have also experienced a
decrease in eviction filings in their court system after instituting Right to Counsel programs.
(6) An evaluation of the Sargent Shriver Act Civil Counsel Programs found that, due to increased settlements, courts were more efficient and had reduced costs.
(h) Programs that pair legal assistance with
education, outreach, and financial assistance for renters
education and outreach have demonstrated an enhanced ability to prevent displacement, avoid eviction filings in many instances, and resolve issues that may lead to displacement if left unaddressed.
(i) The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is expected to further exacerbate California’s housing affordability crisis, as well as the implications of that crisis. Research from the University of California, Los
Angeles Angeles, indicates that expiring eviction moratoriums during the pandemic resulted in a national increase of approximately 433,700 COVID-19 cases and approximately 10,700 additional deaths between March 13 and September 3, 2020, alone.
(j) Programs that
pair legal assistance with
education, outreach, and financial assistance for renters education and outreach will help prevent displacement and help tenants recover economically from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Legal services organizations report that emergency eviction protections put in place at the national, state, and local levels, including recent protections contained in AB 3088 (2020) and SB 91 (2021), have been successful in protecting tenants with representation from eviction, but have been more difficult to navigate for unrepresented tenants, and many tenants are unaware of their rights.