- 3 P's of Housing: Protection
- Asset Building
- Community Benefit Agreements
- Eviction Diversion Program
- Eviction Expungement
- Foreclosure Prevention Program
- Homeownership Program
- Just Cause Evictions
- Mobile Home Protections
- Rent Board
- Rent Control
- Rental Assistance Program
- Rental Registry
- Tenant Right to Counsel
3 P's of Housing: Protection
Protection policies aim to protect the most vulnerable populations from evictions and displacement.
Asset building would allow residents to become more financially stable and have access to homeownership, higher education, retirement savings, and more. While some asset building programs already exist such as HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, they serve a specific population. If local agencies and/or organizations implemented a broader program, it could be designed to fit the needs of residents. Additionally, from a housing standpoint, investment in an asset building program could also lead to more neighborhood stabilization by increasing current tenants’ access to homeownership (including credit/home buyer counseling.
Case Study: Homebuyer Education and Counseling- Stockton, CA
Visionary Home Builders of California offers Homebuyer Education & Counseling to assist current and prospective buyers with educating themselves on topics such as: the homebuying process, credit and budget analysis, money management, loan programs and more.
Case Study: Financial Literacy – Sacramento, CA
The city of Sacramento offers free professional one-on-one financial navigation and coaching for residents regardless of income. Financial Coaching (available in English and Spanish to all residents) is for those who would like support in building long-term financial health through:
- Reducing debt
- Building savings
- Improving credit
- Connecting with safe, affordable checking/saving accounts
Community Benefit Agreements
Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is a legally enforceable contract between a coalition of community-based organizations and the developer of a proposed project. Typically, the agreement includes specific benefits or opportunities that the community would gain because of their support for a project or development being proposed. A CBA can also encourage a more inclusive process that incorporates community concerns and/or wants such as local hiring preferences, improvement of area surrounding the development, and even new housing or facilities.
Case Study: Hunters Point, San Francisco, CA
The Core Community Benefits Agreement is a legal document that secured a landmark package of benefits negotiated between San Francisco community groups and Lennar Urban, the master developer of the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point. The agreement provides for a multi-million-dollar expansion of workforce and affordable housing opportunities for the District. The CCBA further ensures that: o32% of housing units built in the development are affordable for a range of incomes and family sizes; oa further $27 million will be used for affordable housing initiatives that benefit District 10 residents; oover $8.5 million will be targeted to job training for District 10 residents; oemployers associated with the development participate in a local hiring program The benefits are broad. They help create access to new homes in the development, but also help stem the loss of affordable housing in the areas surrounding it.
- 32% of housing units built in the development are affordable for a range of incomes and family sizes;
- A further $27 million will be used for affordable housing initiatives that benefit District 10 residents;
- Over $8.5 million will be targeted to job training for District 10 residents;
- Employers associated with the development participate in a local hiring program
The benefits are broad. They help create access to new homes in the development, but also help stem the loss of affordable housing in the areas surrounding it.
Eviction Diversion Program
Eviction Diversion programs can come in several forms, all of which include some level of involvement from the local court system (typically the court that oversees eviction cases). The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) promotes the usage of their Eviction Diversion Diagnostic Tool which provides jurisdictions with customized guidance and examples of eviction diversion programs. The NCSC defines a successful eviction diversion as one that “provides landlords and tenants with the time, information, and resources necessary to resolve their housing problems without prolonged litigation”. Additionally, NCSC lists the following services as key components of an eviction defense programs:
- On-site legal aid and mediation services,
- On-site housing or financial counseling,
- Tailored referrals to legal and other service providers,
- Screening for rental and financial assistance programs,
- Assistance navigating the court process,
- Assistance negotiating or reviewing settlement agreements,
- Sealing of court records when appropriate and permissible under local law,
- User-friendly court rules and procedures,
- Technology to improve access to the court system and service providers, and Self-help resources for landlords and tenants
A full summary of NCSC’s eviction models can be found HERE.
Case Study: Philadelphia, PA
In 2020, the City of Philadelphia created the Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 1, 2021, the Philadelphia Municipal Court requires Landlords seeking to evict for nonpayment of rent to apply for Phase 4 rental assistance (offers over $97 million in federal rental and utility assistance to landlords and tenants in Philadelphia) and participate in the Eviction Diversion Program first and wait 45 days before filing in court if the issues are not resolved. The Eviction Diversion Program supports landlords and tenants to resolve issues through mediation. The Program facilitates additional resources like rental assistance and housing counselors. Every tenant in the Eviction Diversion Program is assigned a City-funded housing counselor. Housing counselors meet with tenants before mediation to complete rental assistance applications, assess finances and find out if other issues need to be addressed. Housing counselors attend mediation sessions along with the tenant
According to the Network for Public Health Law, evictions can be both a cause and consequence of poverty and most commonly occur due to nonpayment of rent, though there are many additional legal and illegal reasons a household could face eviction. Eviction records can trap households in cycles of poverty by preventing renters from pursuing a full range of housing options. An eviction stays on a household’s rental history for up to seven years and can push families into substandard housing and homelessness. Eviction also disproportionately impacts households of color, particularly black women. Local county courts can push to seal eviction records or make it illegal for an applicant to get denied solely for a past eviction or having a hearing. As a standalone effort it may be difficult to implement due to limited legal aid services and fair housing staff within our region. However, if coupled with additional protection programs/policies such as working with the local court system, local Housing Authority, and fair housing groups, enforcement could become possible.
Case Study: Cleveland, OH
In 2018, the Cleveland Housing Court elected to remove eviction records from its online database and the county clerk’s office. The Court instituted an objective criteria process for when and how the court will consider sealed-record requests.
Case Study: Washington D.C.
In 2020, the D.C. Council unanimously passed a bill mandating eviction records be sealed within three years (within 30 days if an eviction is filed but not carried out). Courts can seal sooner at their discretion. The legislation also restricts landlords from using past evictions when deciding whether to rent to a prospective tenant. Additionally, landlords are required to tell tenants what criteria they will use when deciding whether to rent and prohibits landlords from asking about eviction history. If an application is denied, the landlord must tell the applicant why and give the tenant an opportunity to respond. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $1,000.
Foreclosure assistance programs offer financial and non-financial means of support to homeowners facing financial distress and risk of displacement. In response to the tidal wave of foreclosures during the Great Recession, jurisdictions established assistance programs that provided financial aid and/or loan counseling that would protect homeowners and prevent further residential instability at the nadir of economic downturn.
Case Study: Carson, CA
The Carson Foreclosure Prevention Awareness Initiative (CFPAI) is a campaign created to raise awareness of existing options for those at risk of foreclosure, but also highlights tips and smart decisions that may help prevent foreclosure in the future.
Homeownership programs can offer financial and non-financial support to prospective homebuyers. Programs can be found at all levels of government including local and typically focus on assisting first time homebuyers with understanding the homebuying process, connecting them with additional resources, and providing down payment assistance or similar grants (depending on funding availability).
Case Study: AC Boost – Alameda County, CA
AC Boost is a down payment assistance loan program designed to help households afford to buy a home in Alameda County. The program is administered by Alameda County Housing and Community Development ("HCD") with funding provided by county voters through Measure A1.
Case Study: First Time Homebuyer Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) - Oakland, CA
The Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) is a City of Oakland loan program, operating jointly with participating lenders, to assist low and moderate-income first-time homebuyers with the purchase of homes in the City of Oakland. MAP loans provide assistance that fills the gap between what a household can afford and the purchase price.
Just Cause Ordinances
Just Cause Ordinances or a Just Cause Eviction law protects tenants from eviction by landlords without a legitimate reason. Just Cause refers to the basis of the cause or reason being justifiable according to a set of commonly held or applicable conditions which have been deemed reasonable and fair regarding both the landlord and tenant. A landlord must have a primary "just cause" reason to evict a tenant from a rental unit which is covered by a just cause ordinance. Under Just Cause Ordinances, residents are protected against arbitrary, discriminatory, or retaliatory evictions. Often, a Just Cause Ordinance is paired with a rent stabilization ordinance to ensure that landlords do not arbitrarily evict residents of rent-stabilized units for the sole purpose of being able to increase rent on a new tenant. While the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) has been in effect since 2020, it does not protect all renters. The most notable exemptions are as follows for just cause evictions
- Transient and tourist hotel occupancy (as defined by law);
- Housing accommodations in a nonprofit hospital, religious facility, licensed residential care facility for the elderly, as defined by the law;
- Dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education or a kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, school;
- Owner-Occupied housing accommodations in which the tenant shares a bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner who maintains principal residence with the residential real property;
- Owner-occupied duplex in which one of the units is the owner’s primary residence at the beginning of the tenancy and the owner continues in occupancy;
- New Construction –housing that was issued a certificate of occupancy within the previous 15 years. This means some of the housing previously exempt under Costa Hawkins will now be subject to the State’s rent control provisions.
- Single-family homes and condominiums if the owner is not a real estate investment trust, a corporation, or a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.
Case Study: San Jose, CA
In 2017, the City of San Jose implemented the Tenant Protection Ordinance. Under this ordinance, notices of terminations must be submitted to the Rent Stabilization Program and landlords must submit copies of notices to the City including 3-day, 30-60-90-day notices, and Summons & Complaints. Additionally, the following buildings are covered under just cause protections:
- Rent Stabilized Units
- Rental Units in any Multiple Dwelling, except permitted hotels and motels
- Guest rooms in any Guesthouse
- Unpermitted Units
Case Study: Berkeley, CA
In the City of Berkeley, landlords can only evict tenants in buildings with eviction protections for one of 12 reasons (found here). Additionally, the City also provides special protections against owner move-in evictions, and in some situations, relocation payments.
Mobile Home Protections
Mobile home rent control places specific rent increase restrictions on the land rented by mobile home owners, or the homes themselves. Numerous cities across the state have implemented some form of rent control for mobile homes. Despite state protections, AB 1482 does not protect tenants living in mobile homes. This currently leaves mobile home tenants susceptible to steep rent increases and/or changes in structure of utility fees (included or excluded in rent). Another form of protections that have been implemented.
Case Study: San Jose, CA
The City of San Jose implemented a Mobile Home Rent Ordinance that aims to prevent excessive and unreasonable rent increases to mobile home park residents, to prevent an exploitation of the shortage of available mobile home lots in the city, to permit mobile home park owners to receive a fair and reasonable return, and to establish a process for rent dispute resolution.
A rent board places limits on the amount of rent increases which can be charged by the landlord and on the reasons for evicting a tenant.
Case Study: San Francisco, CA
In San Francisco, the Rent Board Commission is composed of tenant, landlord and neutral representatives appointed by the mayor. The Commission considers appeals of decisions issued by the Rent Board’s Administrative Law Judges. The Commission can uphold the Administrative Law Judge's decision, remand the case to the ALJ for a partial or new hearing, or decide to hear the case themselves. The Commission's decision is final unless a Writ of Administrative Mandamus is timely filed with the Superior Court. The Rent Board Commission also formulates policies and promulgates the Rent Board’s Rules and Regulations to implement the San Francisco Rent Ordinance (SFRB Commission). Additionally, the SF rent board is paid through rental collection of rental unit fees and has no general fund contribution in its budget. The board also has the authority to:
- promulgate Rules and Regulations to effectuate the purposes of the Rent Ordinance;
- hire staff, including administrative law judges; and
- conduct rental arbitration hearings, mediations, and investigatory hearings on Reports of Alleged Wrongful Eviction
The current state rent control law limits annual rent increases of 5% plus the consumer price index per year, up to 10%. Additionally, there are many exemptions from state law which include single family homes (unless split into a multi-dwelling or if the landlord is a REIT, corporation, or LLC), new tenancy, rental units built within the past 15 years (as of 2020), an owner-occupied duplex, units under local rent control law, dormitories, tenant within first year of tenancy. Local jurisdictions could impose stronger rent control ordinances to provide additional protections for tenants.
Case Study: City of San Jose, CA
The City of San Jose has several ordinances for rental housing including rent stabilization for apartments and mobile homes. The city’s Apartment Rent Ordinance limits approximately 38,000 apartments and keeps allowable rent increases to 5% in a 12-month period. The City of San Jose has also implemented the usage of a rent stabilized property map for the public to access and search for rent units/properties.
Rental Assistance Program
According to the White Paper on Anti-Displacement Strategy Effectiveness for CARB, “Rental Assistance Programs (not those administered through the voucher or place-based system) are initiatives offering low-income tenants emergency funds to pay rent and stave off eviction pressures during moments of economic hardship […] Rental assistance programs take a variety of forms, and may exist permanently or on an ad hoc basis during moments of heightened risk of residential instability […] Through general revenue, housing trust funds, and philanthropic contributions, state and local governments are overseeing rental assistance programs for qualifying households that can demonstrate their economic hardship. These policies are not limited to economic downturns and have been used to support renters who have experienced sudden rent increases.
Case Study: San Francisco, CA
Through the Eviction Defense Collaborative, San Francisco City and County residents can receive interest free loans and grants from the Rental Assistance Disbursement Component (RADCo) to prevent an eviction filing if they are behind on rent.
Case Study: Boston, MA
Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) provides eligible households up to $10,000 that can be used to help keep their housing, obtain new housing, or otherwise avoid becoming homeless, regardless of source of income, or lack of income. Citizenship or immigration status is not an issue for most of this funding.
Case Study: Los Angeles, CA
In late 2019, prior to the implementation of a state law (AB 1482) that capped annual rent increases, tenants in Los Angeles saw their rents spike as landlords attempted to bypass the impending restrictions on future rent adjustments. As a result, the LA City Council established an emergency renters fund to prevent mass displacement as tenants absorbed substantial increases to their housing costs (Chandler 2019). Visit the case study website HERE.
Several cities across the U.S., including a few in California, have implemented a rental registry system. According to the Center for Community Progress, rental registration is a local regulation that requires landlords to register their properties with the city and provide the city with essential information. One of the main advantages of implementing a rental registry for local governments is its ability to create a more transparent process for both landlords and tenants. Additionally, a rental registry can support code enforcement efforts by having up to date property and landlord/property manager contact information should code violations or habitability issues arise. Depending on a jurisdiction’s preference, a registry can be as simple as requiring a landlord to register their property. A more detailed registry could have both the landlord and tenant register and have a platform to review their lease terms, rent, as well as correspondence from the landlord to the tenant (and vice-versa). By implementing a registry, local jurisdictions are also able to create an additional layer of tenant protections by keeping a record of properties and ensuring they follow tenant rights and protection laws. Additionally, a rental registry could aid public agencies in future emergencies or disasters by having property contact information readily available.
Case Study: Fresno, CA
As part of the Rental Housing Improvement Act which intends to “safeguard and preserve the housing stock of decent, safe and sanitary residential rental units within the city and to protect persons residing in them by providing for a regular and comprehensive system of inspection and, through such inspections, identify and require the correction of substandard conditions, the City of Fresno implemented a Residential Rental Registry which requires rentals to be registered or updated when there is a change of ownership or contact information. Review the Fresno Municipal Code (found here) for further detail.
Tenant Right to Counsel
According to the Leadership Council for Justice & Accountability, Civil Right to Counsel ensures that every eligible tenant has a right to an attorney when their housing is at stake.
Despite the eviction moratoriums in place (national, state, and local) many tenants are still facing challenges remaining in place. A Tenant Right to Counsel (TRC) program would ensure that tenants who are being formally evicted would have access to legal assistance dedicated to providing tenant defense. Current legal assistance programs may only serve specific populations and/or not have enough capacity to see cases from start to finish. Additionally, the eviction defense program could likely be an approach that could be paired together with Right to Counsel to create stronger tenant protections. By having an established counsel from the start of a case along with related services (such as access to rental assistance or financial literacy, transportation to in person hearings), tenants could possibly reconcile their situation in mediation or with counsel and ultimately avoid eviction.
The ACLU states, “right to counsel measures ensure that tenants who are facing the complex process of an eviction proceeding are guaranteed legal representation — giving tenants a fair chance to access legal protections and stay in their homes. Additionally, tenant attorneys can help tenants apply for rental assistance, ensure that courts do not proceed while such applications are pending, and address situations where landlords refuse to accept the rental assistance.” (website link)
Case Study: San Francisco, CA
In San Francisco, the eviction rated decreased by 10 percent with 67 percent of cases resulting in tenants remaining housed (ACLU). Under Prop F in San Francisco, the No Eviction without Representation Act” requires that all eligible residential tenants receive free legal representation.