Housing In Brief: L.A. Proposes Right To Counsel For Eviction Hearings

Los Angeles is also ordering a study of city-owned vacant buildings.

(Photo by Prayitno / CC BY 2.0)

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L.A. Mayor Orders Study of City-Owned Vacant Buildings

Immediately upon taking office, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass declared homelessness a state of emergency and announced a series of initiatives meant to decrease unsheltered homelessness and build out both temporary and permanent housing. While details were at first scarce, some of these initiatives are taking shape. Bass ordered staff to make a list of city-owned vacant properties over the next three weeks, according to the L.A. Times, with the goal of building them into temporary and permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness. She asked officials to vet each property by March 31, according to the Times.

Bass has also launched an initiative called “Inside Safe” intended to clear homeless encampments. That initiative cleared encampments in Del Rey, Hollywood and South Los Angeles and transitioned 200 people to temporary housing, according to the Times. While Bass initially said it would rely on outreach and not on police enforcement, the clearing of an encampment at Skid Row on Monday led to confrontations between residents and police officers, according to ABC. (The Department of Sanitation said the sweep was a “routine cleanup.”)

L.A. Councilmember Proposes Right To Counsel

L.A. City Councilmember Nitya Raman introduced a motion on Tuesday that could lead to a citywide Right to Counsel in eviction hearings, according to KCRW. Lawmakers came close to introducing Right to Counsel in the city before the pandemic, but the idea was pared down to an outreach and education program for tenants called Stay Housed L.A., KCRW reports. The new proposal, signed by five other council members, asks the city’s housing department to provide recommendations on a city-wide right to counsel within 60 days, according to LAist.

A report produced by the LA Right To Counsel Coalition in 2019 found that Right To Counsel would cost the city $34.6 million a year and the county $47.3 million a year. However, it could save the city and county “approximately $370.8 million annually” by avoiding the costs associated with residential displacement, according to the report.

The council members’ plan would give the city five years to phase in a right to counsel program, beginning with lower-income residents and zip codes where residents are more vulnerable to eviction. It already has a funding stream: Measure ULA, the “mansion tax” passed by voters last November, sets aside 10% of revenue for a citywide Right To Counsel. LAist reports that the tax is set to take effect in April pending a legal challenge.

More Homeless New Yorkers Died in Fiscal Year 2022 Than Any Other Year

A total of 815 homeless New Yorkers died in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, according to an annual report released by the city, the highest ever counted in one fiscal year. At least 323 people died in hospitals and at least 78 died outdoors, the report says. The majority of deaths were drug-related, accounting for 329 deaths, up from 249 last year. Ten deaths were from Covid-19, making it the seventh leading cause of death during the year. At least 75 deaths occurred in HIV/AIDS Services Administration, but the report doesn’t include their cause of death due to New York State Public Health Law.

The total number of deaths broke the record of the previous year, when 764 homeless New Yorkers died. “In this, the richest society on Earth, we tolerate devastating health disparities based on the color of a person’s skin with the amount of money they have in their bank account,” George Nashak, CEO of Care for the Homeless, told Gothamist about the report.

Other stories we’re following:

  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Wall Street investors bought more than 65,000 single-family homes in the Atlanta metro area in the last decade, and 11 companies own more than 1,000 homes each. “Invitation Homes and Progress Residential — own more than 10,000 homes apiece.”

  • A planned tiny home village in San Francisco could be scrapped due to community blowback and a cost estimate of $100,000 per unit, according to SF Chronicle.

  • A community land trust based in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood will receive $5 million in American Rescue Plan dollars, Block Club Chicago reports.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: los angeleshomelessnessnew yorkright to counsel

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