Tenants rights group proposing solution to homelessness in Fresno

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FRESNO, Cali. (KGPE) — A tenants rights group is proposing a solution to homelessness in Fresno.

They say if the city provided legal help for renters facing unlawful eviction, far fewer people will end up homeless.

It’s a program with a record of success, not only preventing homelessness in other cities but saving taxpayer money because the legal help ends up cheaper for a city than the cost of services when people otherwise become homeless.

The presentation to City Council was informative and not a proposed change in law or policy.

The Fresno Right to Counsel Coalition explained the benefits of programs that provide representation to renters facing possibly unlawful eviction.

Alexandra Alverado works with Faith in the Valley, a local group involved the coalition. 

“We’re hoping it will be a full-spectrum support system where as soon as someone receives an eviction notice, a 3-day perform or quit, they know who to contact and from there on they are able to walk them through the process. And if from there someone does need to go to eviction court they have legal representation in the room with them.”

City council member Nelson Esparza says, 

“Many of them go into that process without formal legal representation and that puts them at a tremendous disadvantage.”

Right to Counsel could play a part in a solution to homelessness.

Esparza says, “The homeless population is actually growing. Obviously there are a lot of different variables in the growth in the homeless population. But we do know housing affordability is among those.”

As for Right to Counsel, he says “We’re exploring it. We’re taking a temperature.  From an economic perspective the cost benefit analysis is certainly there and is in favor of something like this.”

A positive cost benefit analysis is supported by studies conducted in several cities with Right to Counsel in place.

Esparza says, “I think for every dollar you’re investing in this program you’re saving taxpayers around $3-5 in terms of preventing homelessness and those different societal costs that occur when folks are evicted.”

The presentation was informational. There is no formal proposition to change official city law or policy at this time. 

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