New 'Stay Housed LA County' program provides free legal aid for renters at risk of eviction

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An information campaign is underway in Los Angeles County to prevent evictions by supplying renters with legal aid and even lawyers to help them in eviction court.

"When tenants have legal representation, a family's chance of avoiding homelessness due to eviction increases by more than 70%," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who authored the motion to create the program, "Stay Housed L.A. County."

The county is supplying over $10 million dollars to provide the outreach and legal aid. It comes as the county is struggling to reduce the number of unhoused people who are already living in tents and in their cars.

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"What we are faced with now is some 60,000 men, women and children who have to contend with this everyday and they have no place to call home," says Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Stay Housed L.A. will provide a free lawyer if you are a low income renter. A family of four that annually makes $26,000 to $33,000 or less is eligible. People of all incomes can access eviction workshops which operate six days a week.

More information is available by calling (213) 235-0070. Renters can also connect to services on the program's website, StayHousedLA.org,

That $10 million is funding the program as well as its publicity blitz. The Board of Supervisors was expected to consider funding for another lifeline on Tuesday - the mom and pop landlords whose renters are not paying.

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"So the absence of rent collections for seven months now has really put them in dire financial straits," says Dan Yukelson who head the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.

Housing will be lost if the landlords who own fewer than five properties cannot pay their mortgage and the units are foreclosed.

"And these properties are going to be converted into condominiums or be remodeled and the rents for those buildings is going to be much, much higher," predicts Yukelson.

As worries rise, Stay Housed L.A. is getting out the word. Education is the first line of defense against eviction.

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