Wyhemia’s life was finally on the right track. Then, everything changed.

When Wyhemia’s son was a toddler, she learned that he had autism. She needed to provide for him, so she decided to go back to school and get her GED. Wyhemia graduated and got a job in a nursing home caring for the elderly. They moved into a safe home in a neighborhood that she loved. Twelve years later and everything was perfect. She felt like she could finally give her son a better life.

Then, it all came crashing down.

Earlier this year, a new neighbor moved in. The neighbor began to make false accusation against Wyhemia to the property managers. Instead of getting both sides of the story, management decided to just evict Wyhmeia.

Wyhemia was confused and terrified. Her home was on the line, and no one was listening to her side of the story. Plus, with an eviction on her record, there was no way she could find a new place. She feared she’d end up homeless.

It was hardest when she thought of her son. She knew that living in a homeless shelter would be detrimental to his disability and long-term development.

That’s when Wyhemia called Open Door Legal. We advocated for her in the hearing with the landlord. After intense negotiations, the landlord agreed to not evict her and let Wyhemia and her family stay in their home. 

Now, Wyhemia can finally relax. Thanks to supporters like you, her family will not become a part of the homelessness crisis in San Francisco. 

Wyhemia’s story isn’t unique. Families across San Francisco are facing wrongful evictions every day, and often end up homeless. If we band together, we can change that.

In honor of World Homeless Day, let’s help moms like Wyhemia stay housed.

In honor of World Homeless Day, let’s help moms like Wyhemia stay housed.

Wyhemia’s life was finally on the right track. Then, everything changed.

When Wyhemia’s son was a toddler, she learned that he had autism. She needed to provide for him, so she decided to go back to school and get her GED. Wyhemia graduated and got a job in a nursing home caring for the elderly. They moved into a safe home in a neighborhood that she loved. Twelve years later and everything was perfect. She felt like she could finally give her son a better life.

Then, it all came crashing down.

Earlier this year, a new neighbor moved in. The neighbor began to make false accusation against Wyhemia to the property managers. Instead of getting both sides of the story, management decided to just evict Wyhmeia.

Wyhemia was confused and terrified. Her home was on the line, and no one was listening to her side of the story. Plus, with an eviction on her record, there was no way she could find a new place. She feared she’d end up homeless.

It was hardest when she thought of her son. She knew that living in a homeless shelter would be detrimental to his disability and long-term development.

That’s when Wyhemia called Open Door Legal. We advocated for her in the hearing with the landlord. After intense negotiations, the landlord agreed to not evict her and let Wyhemia and her family stay in their home. 

Now, Wyhemia can finally relax. Thanks to supporters like you, her family will not become a part of the homelessness crisis in San Francisco. 

Wyhemia’s story isn’t unique. Families across San Francisco are facing wrongful evictions every day, and often end up homeless. If we band together, we can change that.

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.