Preventing Displacement–One Family at a Time
The housing shortage in the Bay Area has resulted in skyrocketing rents and economic incentives to replace low-income tenants with higher earners, resulting in a displacement crisis among low-income people, disproportionately people of color, in the communities surrounding Stanford. The displacement crisis happens one family at a time, as they receive notices of unmanageable rent increases, tenancy terminations, and eviction court papers. Often, tenants have legal defenses, but without representation they cannot assert them, and they are vulnerable to swift and often catastrophic dislocation. CLC students and attorneys are among the only lawyers in the local community who provide full-scale representation to tenants facing eviction in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Eviction cases move fast, and demand a lot of CLC students, who must draft pleadings, conduct discovery, negotiate and prepare for trial in the space of three weeks. CLC’s eviction defense 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 observe the hundreds of tenants who go unrepresented faring much less well.
In addition to individual eviction cases, CLC is counsel to activists seeking political answers to the housing crisis. This policy work involves legislative and campaign advocacy on behalf of community-based organized tenants. CLC was the attorney to the Mountain View Tenants Coalition, which successfully placed rent stabilization on the November 2016 ballot. CLC also successfully represented the measure proponents when a real estate industry group sued the City, alleging that the measure was unconstitutional. In light of the success of the Mountain View campaign, other communities have sought CLC’s representation and consult 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.
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CASES & PROJECTS
The Context: Housing Issues in the Bay Area
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.Learn more
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.Learn more