ALRP and Partners Step Up SF Eviction Defense

Because of the unprecedented crisis in housing affordability and a dramatic spike in the number of eviction cases filed recently in San Francisco, ALRP worked with community groups to secure additional funding for homelessness prevention programs this year. With this funding, ALRP has expanded our AIDS Housing Advocacy Project (AHAP) and added an additional Housing Attorney. This expansion will include providing full scope representation in eviction cases in San Francisco, from the filing of an eviction lawsuit up to and including representation at trial—efforts that are part of our continued partnership with the Eviction Defense Collaborative.

ALRP Staff Attorney Brian Brophy, who has staffed the HIV Consumer Advocacy Project for the past two and a half years, stepped into his new role of Housing Attorney on October 1. “The expansion of AHAP is really good news for our clients,” he said. “I’m really excited about it. Eviction defense is one of the reasons I got into public interest law, and with what’s going on in San Francisco right now it’s so vital. There are so many unlawful detainers being filed, so many people being evicted, that it’s great we can step in at this time in San Francisco’s history and try to stem the tide of evictions.”

Brian and other ALRP staff attorneys are noting a huge increase in eviction cases that previously would not have occurred, over issues that would have been resolved out of court. “For our clients, it’s not just about losing an apartment,” he said. “For low-income people with HIV, losing a rent-controlled apartment means almost certainly having to move out of the Bay Area entirely, away from social support, services, public transit, and their medical team. They’re facing moving to communities where people won’t necessarily be able to help them with their health issues.”

The expanded program is already paying dividends for clients. “With a network of legal aid organizations representing clients at trial now, it’s changing the way that settlement negotiations are going,” Brian said. “We were seeing landlord’s attorneys who were taking four eviction cases a week, because they knew most tenants wouldn’t be able to go to trial. Now they know the tenants will be represented the whole way so they have to think twice. We’re on our way to creating a right to counsel in unlawful detainer actions in San Francisco. It’s very exciting.”