Preventing Displacement–One Family at a Time
Housing prices throughout the Bay Area are skyrocketing, resulting in a displacement crisis among low-income people, disproportionately people of color, in the communities surrounding SLS. CLC students and attorneys are among the only lawyers in the area who provide full-scale representation to tenants facing eviction in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. These cases give CLC students a rapid and deep dive into all aspects of civil litigation, from drafting pleadings to taking and defending depositions to negotiating with opposing counsel. The eviction cases are handled in Superior Court, where students appear at settlement conferences, motion hearings, and at ex parte and trial calendars. This practice exposes students not only to the displacement crisis but also to the access to justice crisis, as they experience first-hand how having an attorney moves the needle for families facing eviction, and see the hundreds of tenants who go unrepresented.
In addition to individual eviction cases, CLC is counsel to activists seeking rent stabilization and other tenant protections in local jurisdictions. This work involves legislative and campaign advocacy on behalf of community-based organized tenants. In 2016, CLC was the attorney to the Mountain View Tenants Coalition, which successfully placed rent stabilization on the November 2016 ballot. When the measure passed, Mountain View became the first California city in 30 years to implement rent control. In addition to serving as counsel to the campaign, CLC also, with co-counsel, represented the proponents of the ballot measure when a real estate industry group sued the City, alleging that the measure was unconstitutional. (The group dismissed the case after the court denied their application for a preliminary injunction.). In light of the success of the Mountain View campaign, other communities seek the advice and counsel of the CLC as they pursue rent stabilization and other tenant protection policies. Through this work, CLC students see the connection between individual cases and larger policy questions, and experience how attorneys work with community groups.
The Context: Housing Issues in the Bay Area
The Urban Displacement Study is a multi-university and community research initiative studying gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area. Click above for maps, data, events, and more to put CLC's housing work into a regional and policy context.
The City of East Palo Alto renewed its commitment to affordable housing when it updated its Rent Stabilization and Eviction Control ordinance in 2010. This link takes you to the law and its history.
NLIHC is a national organization dedicated to preserving the rights of low-income people to safe and affordable housing. Click on the link above to surf its research, publication and tools, including the Out of Reach data, which show the "housing wage" for every city and county in the nation.