Our Neighborhood

Our Neighborhood

Bayview/Hunters Point and other southeast neighborhoods contain about 14% of everyone in San Francisco who lives below the poverty level

%

of residents live below the poverty line

%

of adult residents are either not in the labor force or unemployed

%

of adults at least 25 years old have never completed high school or obtained a GED

Source: 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

The Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood is located in south-eastern San Francisco. Originally the neighborhood was a home to the city’s slaughterhouses and associated industries that benefitted from the neighborhood’s isolation from San Francisco’s urban core. Later, San Francisco’s shipbuilding and warehousing industries located here, making this area one of the strongest blue-collar communities in the city.

Until 2006, coal and gas-fired power plants were located in the neighborhood. The naval shipyard also did nuclear decontamination in Hunters Point. This, combined with the long history of heavy industrial use, led to massive soil contamination in large parts of the neighborhood.

Beginning in the 1960s, Bayview/Hunters Point began to experience a decline. Closure of the shipyard, substandard housing, declining infrastructure, and racial discrimination led to an increase in crime and blight. The San Francisco general plan states than “analysis of census data illustrates trends of demographic and economic decline and displacement in Bayview.”

 

Changes Are Coming…

Bayview/Hunters Point has experienced the biggest percentage increase in the value of its housing
of any neighborhood in San Francisco. With the coming Shipyard and Candlestick developments,
many residents wonder how the neighborhood will change in the coming years.

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.