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This is an invitation for you to volunteer to help defend the 744,000 people—including 238,000 children—in Los Angeles County that are at extremely high risk of eviction and homelessness as a result of the pandemic crisis.

Impending Eviction Tsunami

While the California legislature is currently considering AB1436 that purports to stop nonpayment evictions, AB 1436 does not actually stop evictions. It only gives tenants a defense—a defense that means nothing unless they can get it to the court within 5 business days.

They need all the help they can get. They need your help.

Here is an urgent request from the Eviction Defense Collaborative that explains the dire situation in more detail and outlines the specific kinds of volunteer help that are most urgently needed.

Below is an urgent request from the Eviction Defense Collaborative that explains the dire situation in more detail and outlines the specific kinds of volunteer help that are most urgently needed.

For in-depth information about this looming crisis, please visit this website to view and download the reports published by UCLA's Institute on Inequality and Democracy.

Please note: Even if you have already volunteered elsewhere, please use the volunteer forms linked directly below to provide some basic information so that we can connect you to the relevant organizations working to defend tenants. By providing your contact and availability information, you are only signing up to be contacted by the relevant tenant protection organizations.

VOLUNTEER FORMS:

EVICTION DEFENSE COLLABORATIVE CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS

The Impending Humanitarian Crisis of Evictions and Homelessness:
August 8, 2020

In a report by retired UCLA law professor Gary Blasi published in May by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, he estimated that as a result of the pandemic and resulting depression, there were about 365,000 households in Los Angeles County who had no income or reserves with which to pay rent. All of those households were at high risk of eviction, and a substantial percentage at risk of becoming homeless. The most conservative estimate of those becoming homeless was 36,000 households, including about 56,000 children. Since May, the situation has deteriorated further. In a new report published yesterday, based on the latest Census data, scholar Paul Ong reported that across California about 2.5 million people and more than 800,000 children were in households unable to pay their rent in May and June. Based on the percentage of California rental units in Los Angeles County, that means about 744,000 people, including 238,000 children, in Los Angeles County are at extremely high risk of eviction. Ong also found that, due both to long standing systemic racism and the highly disparate impact of COVID-19, Blacks and Latinx people were two and half times more likely to be at risk.

At present, unlawful detainer (eviction) cases in California have been frozen by an Emergency Rule of the Judicial Council prohibiting local courts from issuing a summons in most unlawful detainer (eviction) cases. The Chief Justice has indicated that evictions may resume by August 14, but the leaders of the California legislature have asked for an extension of the freeze until September 5. A bill in the legislature, AB1436, would provide tenants with an additional defense to eviction, but does not stop the filing of eviction cases. When tenants are served with the court papers (summons and complaint), they must file their own court papers (answer) within five (5) business days. If they are unable to do that, they lose automatically and face physical eviction within a couple of weeks. With that, the public health admonition to “stay home” to avoid COVID-19 infection becomes a cruel taunt.

Even in normal times, the existing array of legal aid and public interest law firms can help only a small fraction of tenants facing eviction. In this time of COVID, even with more money from the County, they will be overwhelmed with the flood of evictions.

To help fill that gap, a newly created Eviction Defense Collaborative, comprised of lawyers and legal workers, tenant and community organizers, anti-racist activists and social justice-oriented software engineers, are developing an on-line resource (an Eviction Defense Tool) to enable more tenants to be able to file answers either themselves or with some assistance from a volunteer on the phone. The answers and other necessary paperwork will be filed electronically, so that tenants and their children need not ride a bus to stand in line at the courthouse to try to save their homes.

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Once the Answer is filed, unlawful detainer cases move very quickly. It is unclear how either the backlog of cases or the pandemic-era capacity of the Court will affect processing times. But in order to evict tenants before a trial, landlord lawyers can serve discovery and file motions for summary judgment, also requiring a 5 day response.

Lastly, because of the freeze on most legal evictions, landlords have increasingly turned to illegal evictions: lockouts, shutting off utilities, harassment, and sometimes violence. Tenant organizations have begun providing direct action response to illegal lockouts out of necessity.

In light of all the above, there is an urgent need for volunteers in the following areas to help stem this emerging humanitarian disaster in Los Angeles. You can volunteer for as many of these as you like.

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Open to Non-Lawyers: Volunteers who can be trained to use an on-line resource to prepare answers to unlawful detainer complaints based on information obtained in real time telephone conversations with tenants. These persons need not be lawyers or know anything about eviction law; they need only have computer skills, access to the internet, and be willing to be trained through on-line resources. Those conversant in languages other than English will have a particularly critical role to play. CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER FOR THIS OPTION

2. Open to Non-Lawyers: Greater time-commitment than option one above. Volunteers who can work with tenants whose paperwork has been rejected by the clerk to correct the problems and get them back to us for electronic filing. CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER FOR THIS OPTION

3. For Lawyers: Volunteer Lawyers who will agree to the limited representation of tenants who are served with motions for summary judgement, other pretrial motions, or discovery, for the purpose of preparing or assisting a tenant to prepare and file a legally sufficient response. Note that this requires immediate availability, because responses are generally required within 5 days. However, on-line training and sample materials will be provided. CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER FOR THIS OPTION

4. For Lawyers: Volunteers Lawyers who will agree to full representation of tenants, including negotiating with plaintiffs or their attorneys and, ultimately if necessary, representation at trial. CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER FOR THIS OPTION

5. For Lawyers: Volunteer Lawyers who can provide immediate legal support to tenants and organizations fighting illegal evictions, including illegal lockouts, and/or pro bono or contingent fee representation for tenants in litigation against landlords for the illegal eviction and associated torts. CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER FOR THIS OPTION

Volunteers can agree to be potentially available for any or all of the options above, subject to their availability at the time they are contacted for help.

AND A CALL FOR ACTION TO KEEP THE FREEZE ON EVICTIONS

It is obvious that there are better alternatives to volunteers fighting a massive effort to remove families from their homes. Call your state senator and assembly person. Call the Governor. Tell them AB1436 is something, but it is not nearly enough. In this pandemic and economic depression, evictions must be stopped until the emergency is over.

(end of Call from the Eviction Defense Collaborative)

Please use the volunteer form links directly below to provide some basic information so that we can connect you to the relevant organizations working to defend tenants.

Impending Eviction Tsunami