FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Fresno’s Eviction Protection Program officially launched Tuesday, designed to prevent unlawful evictions and homelessness.
It’s a program Fresno City Council unanimously approved back in May, offering free legal counsel and mediation services to renters. Councilmembers Tyler Maxwell and Nelson Esparza were behind the effort.
“If we’re able to keep one person from becoming homeless, this program has been a victory,” Maxwell said.
Starting this week, any renter in Fresno who believes they are being unlawfully evicted can present their case to the city’s Code Enforcement – which could connect them to a local law firm to fight their case at no cost to the renter.
“The qualifications really are just: are you a tenant living in the city of Fresno, and is your eviction potentially unlawful?,” said Assistant City Attorney Christina Roberson.
Renters can apply for the program regardless of citizenship status or financial status.
According to officials, some things that might make an eviction unlawful include:
- Retaliation for reporting code enforcement violations
- Illegal rent increases
- Landlord failing to provide legally required notices
“If a tenant is evicted within a certain period of time of reporting to code enforcement, it can almost be presumed,” Roberson said.
The $750,000 funding for this program is coming from the city’s Emergency Rental Assistance program.
There is a time limit on the funds used to support the program, but. Maxwell says he believes the deadline will be pushed back. If this program is a success, the city will consider finding another way to fund it.
“It will ultimately be up to a majority of my council colleagues to decide whether the money was worth it,” he said.
For more information, and to fill out an online application, go to the city’s website.