With the City of Bakersfield’s budget hearings approaching in the next few months, community members are encouraged to participate in the Keep Bakersfield House campaign to help local tenants.
The Keep Bakersfield Housed campaign is a budget request to allocate $1 million to establish a comprehensive right-to-counsel program that will provide tenant rights education and outreach, legal services and advice for landlord/tenant issues, and attorney representation for tenants in court.
“More than 50 percent of landlords have access to an attorney, whereas less than one percent of tenants have legal representation during eviction court proceedings. During a time when more than half of Bakersfield tenants are cost-burdened and vacancy rates are so low, the City of Bakersfield must establish the right to counsel program to protect tenants from illegal evictions, illegal rent increases, uninhabitable living conditions, and other landlord/tenant issues,” stated Emma de la Rosa, a Regional Policy Manager with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Availability.
On April 13, the Keep Bakersfield Housed campaign will be holding a kick-off community meeting at 5:30 p.m. that they are inviting community members to attend. The meeting will take place at 1527 19th Street in Bakersfield.
“We are at the forefront of a housing crisis in the state and the City of Bakersfield is no exception to this. We are seeing an influx of residents being homeless for the first time in their lives, rents increasing exponentially, tenants being forced to live in uninhabitable homes, and a multitude of evictions all throughout the city,” stated Sandra Plascencia, a Policy Advocate with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Availability. “We encourage residents in Bakersfield to join us on April 13 at 5:30 p.m. to talk more about the pressing need for a Right to Counsel program in our city.”
A second Keep Bakersfield Housed campaign will take place on April 20 at 6 p.m. via Zoom.
“Right to Counsel would help ensure tenants have access to an attorney in case they face an eviction or housing issue in court. More times than not we know tenants are left to represent themselves alone in court, with no guidance or support from an attorney,” Plascencia continued. “An attorney can be the determining factor of whether you stay in your home or not. It’s time to change this and to make sure Bakersfield tenants are protected and safe inside of their homes.”
The Keep Bakersfield Housed campaign can also be supported by attending the budget hearings when they take place in June.
The Mid-Budget hearing will take place at 5:15 p.m. on June 12, and the budget adoption will take place at 5:15 p.m. on June 28.