By Lauren B. Childers
Every year, thousands of households in Fresno County are evicted from their homes. Evictions are unfair, especially due to huge disparities in legal representation between tenants (1%) and landlords (73%). I don’t think justice should be dependent on financial ability.
“Our cities have become unaffordable to our poorest families, and this problem is leaving a deep and jagged scar on our next generation,” says Matthew Desmond, author of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” Renters are evicted for helping loved ones who could otherwise be homeless, or for nuisance complaints, which are especially dangerous for people experiencing domestic violence. This just doesn’t seem right.
At Fresno State, I’m learning how to put knowledge into action through a community-based research project. I’m working with classmates, professors, and Faith in the Valley, Fresno. We examined 1,000 eviction cases from 2016. I learned that only 12 tenants had legal representation! I was shocked. As Americans, we say everyone has a right to justice under the law. If that’s true, then we should pass a right to counsel ordinance. If L.A. and SF can do it, why not Fresno? Let’s be a city that holds true to our values. Right to counsel will help protect the rights and freedoms of tenants in eviction cases.
Read more at the Fresno Bee.