Why safe housing matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One unlawful eviction

That’s what drove Keyona and her kids into a homeless shelter. They spent months surrounded by violence, mice, and bugs. She had the money for an apartment, but no landlord would take her because of her record. When she tried to explain, she was shut out.

Thankfully, Keyona’s social worker connected her with Open Door Legal. In 40 hours of work, we removed the eviction from her record, and the very next day, she found safe and affordable housing, where she and her children still reside today.

The problem

Low-income people in San Francisco face serious housing instability and can’t afford legal help to remedy the situation.

Our solution

By providing free legal services to those with habitability issues, evictions, and other housing needs, we can prevent homelessness and housing instability before it’s too late.

Legal help is proven to reduce housing issues before they escalate.

According to researchers at American University and the George Washington University Law School, tenants with full representation are four times as likely to stay in their homes¹ and four times less likely to use homeless shelters² than tenants without full representation.

Help more families like Keyona’s

Meet our housing clients

Read more housing stories here.

Pasa’s Story

Maria’s Story

Isi’s Story

Our housing outcomes

Learn more about our outcomes here.

Over $1 Million In Housing Awards

Evictions Prevented

Secured Safe Housing

CITATIONS

1. American University, Key Studies and Data About How Legal Aid Improves Housing Outcomes https://www.american.edu/spa/jpo/toolkit/upload/housing-7-30-19.pdf

2. George Washington Law School, In Pursuit of Justice? Case Outcomes and the Delivery of Unbundled Legal Services https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi

Ever since childhood, our co-founder Adrian has been dedicated to reducing poverty.

He studied systemic poverty in college and went to work in the field for a few years. Eventually, he had a thesis that legal aid was the most cost-effective way to address poverty in America. He wrote up a business plan and used it to apply to law school. 

The idea was to create the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation that ensures everyone can obtain timely, competent legal help for any legal issue, regardless of ability to pay. That had never been done before in the history of the United States.

In law school, he met Virginia, our Programs Director. Together, they co-founded the organization, two weeks after Adrian passed the bar.

When we opened we put a sign in the window, and with just that marketing and almost no other outreach we were overwhelmed with requests for help from people with good cases who had been turned away everywhere else.

Our first year we had revenue of $35,000. We would hand shred documents because a shredder was too expensive. Despite the financial challenges, we were able to work on over 280 cases in everything from housing law to family law to consumer law in the first year alone.

The hours were extreme, the pay was low, and the learning curve was steep. Still, we persisted. We knew that almost everyone we helped was not able to receive services anywhere else. Eventually, we attracted the interest of funders. We tripled our revenue for several years in a row. In 2015, we won the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, which enabled us to expand even more. In 2019, we secured additional funding from the city that allowed us to open two new centers in the Excelsior and Western Addition.

As of 2020, our staff has grown to 27 full-time employees. We’ve shown that universal access is possible. Now, we plan to scale city-wide, make San Francisco the first city in the country’s history to have universal access to legal help, and become a model for national replication.