Are you getting pushed out of California?
By Francisco Dueñas
Many people today are fighting to stay in their homes. Estimates are that LA County alone processes 68,000 eviction cases a year. That’s 68,000 homes that are destabilized, families that have to pack up and find a new place to live and children whose studies are disrupted. And that’s just in one year.
This is an issue for the LGBT community. We depend on building safe communities and supporting each other when other support systems fail us. In California we can’t be discriminated for being LGBT when seeking housing. But unfortunately today, many neighborhoods historically welcoming to the LGBT community have become too expensive for most LGBT people. I don’t think that’s anything to be proud of.
Very few cities in California have laws protecting tenants from being kicked out. And in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland, with tenant protections, unscrupulous landlords can easily skirt the laws. Landlords can file eviction notices multiple times until they are successful. They have been known to harass tenants and make it difficult for tenants to pay their rent, so that they can claim they never received it. One East Hollywood mom is being kicked out of the apartment she shares with her son because her son turned 18, 14 years ago.
Most landlords are not predatory and abusive. Most landlords want their tenants to stay a long time and treat them with respect. But having a roof over your head shouldn’t depend upon the luck of the draw. Currently, landlords have more incentives to push tenants out than to provide stable homes. And a greater number of apartments and rental homes are owned by corporate landlords. We need more and stronger legal protections. But until then, you need to know that you can fight and, definitely, forestall an unjust eviction. But you can’t do it alone.
Most tenants who show up to court without an attorney or some kind of legal support lose their case and their home. At the first sign of trouble, find a lawyer or a housing advocate to talk to. There are legal clinics that can help you understand the law and your rights. Document what is happening to you in writing, orally or on video. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand. And most importantly, get friends.
In Los Angeles, tenants are coming together with community organizations like the Los Angeles Tenants Union, ACCE, and the Eviction Defense Network, to name a few, to fight unjust evictions. Whether you are facing an eviction at the moment or are simply tired of seeing your neighbors pushed out, you can make a difference. Together with others, help sound the alarm on this crisis.