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Infrastructure, Housing and Development

SLO County Superior Court launches eviction navigation program

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The federal and state eviction moratoriums put in place during the pandemic are over, and the National Housing Law Project claims legal aid attorneys are reporting an increase in eviction cases across the country.

Now, tenants and landlords can use a new local program designed to help them navigate the eviction process.

The San Luis Obispo County Superior Court rolled out the new program in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF), a nonprofit that provides free legal services to low-income county residents, primarily in the area of housing and evictions.

Stephanie Barclay is the Legal Director at SLOLAF. She said they were able to introduce the new program with a grant through something called the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act.

“We were able to implement a housing program that helps low-income landlords and tenants understand their rights — primarily around evictions — but also on issues regarding safe and fair housing, rent increases and other housing rights,” Barclay said.

Barclay said these services have been needed for a while amid the coronavirus pandemic and rising housing costs in SLO County and the rest of the state. But, she said, without the grant, they weren’t able to offer them sooner. Barclay said the clients SLOLAF serves are typically low-income and can’t afford legal services.

She said the goal is to help people understand their particular circumstances and the eviction process.

“They’re designed so that people who are in need of these critical services won’t lose their housing or their personal safety without having the opportunity to at least meet with a lawyer, understand their rights and their options,” Barclay said.

Barclay said self-help assistance is available through the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, and SLOLAF has more expanded services available through their office.

She said anyone who is eligible for the program will receive some level of legal assistance.

“What that level is will depend on a number of factors such as the merits of the case, whether they want an attorney, whether they need an attorney or have the ability to represent themself using the courts self-help services, whether the other side has an attorney and their willingness to cooperate and participate in their case,” Barclay said.

Two other programs are also being made available through the grant. One is designed to help low-income residents age 65 or over who are victims of elder abuse. The other is meant to provide free help to those looking to gain a conservatorship or guardianship of an individual.

To schedule an appointment with the Court’s Self-Help Center, call (805) 706-3617, or schedule online at
here.

For more information about the services provided, click here.

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