San Francisco’s Proposition F would ensure free legal representation to anyone in San Francisco facing eviction.
You know how when someone gets arrested, the police tell them they have a right to an attorney and if they can’t afford one, one will be provided for them? Well, that’s true all across the country, but only if that person is facing criminal changes.
If you’re in eviction court — which is civil, not criminal — there’s no free lawyer.
There were more than 1,600 eviction notices issued last year in San Francisco; less than half of them got free legal help.
The city already spends about $2 million per year to provide legal help to some low-income people, through nonprofits and pro bono attorneys, but it’s not enough.
The city controller estimates that it would cost almost three times as much to have a program that covered everyone.
Tenants rights groups, and all the leading mayoral candidates, support Proposition F.
They say it would save money in the long run, because people who get evicted end up using taxpayer-funded homeless shelters and other social services, and they might lose their jobs, children, or end up in jail.
Supporters also say that this law could help address San Francisco’s housing and displacement crisis.
The main opposition to Proposition F is the San Francisco Apartment Association, which represents about 4,000 landlords. They argue that taxpayers shouldn’t be required to pay for lawyers for wealthy people, or tenants who are violating their leases or being nuisances to other tenants, and deserve to be evicted.
So, if you think that anyone facing eviction should be offered a free lawyer to represent them in eviction court — vote yes on proposition F. If you think that legal representation is not something government should be providing to all tenants, vote no.