This “Right to Counsel” ordinance will formalize and expand the existing Stay Housed LA County program, initiated in 2020, which offers support services to tenants including legal education, representation, and rental assistance to income-eligible tenants.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved the creation of a “Right to Counsel” ordinance to secure legal representation for eligible tenants facing eviction in unincorporated areas
Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis presented a motion stating that since the program’s inception, it has provided limited legal services and assessments to over 15,700 tenant households and full-scope legal representation to about 2,400 households. However, with COVID-related tenant protections lifting and a rise in evictions, county supervisors aim to extend the “Right to Counsel” program to ensure tenants facing the loss of their homes have access to legal representation.
A unanimous board vote instructs the attorneys to draft the “Right to Counsel” ordinance within 10 months, with the goal of ensuring legal representation for eligible tenants in unincorporated areas by the 2024-25 fiscal year. The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs has been directed to provide a plan within 180 days for a phased expansion of the “Right to Counsel” program to offer the same legal representation guarantee to eligible tenants throughout the county by 2030-31.
Funding remains a challenge for the “Right to Counsel” program, with an estimated cost of $22 million for the first year alone
County officials will need to identify funds to sustain and expand the “Right to Counsel” initiative, which initially received $2 million from Measure H anti-homelessness funds and $8.7 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
While over 100 people voiced their opinions on the “Right to Counsel” matter during the board meeting, advocates stressed the inequity of the current eviction process and the need for assistance, while some opponents argued that “Right to Counsel” is an economic issue rather than a legal one.
Supervisor Janice Hahn emphasized that the “Right to Counsel” program would also apply to small businesses renting premises from landlords. The program aims to remove barriers and provide affordable legal representation to working people, helping thousands of residents maintain their housing.