WHAT IS BASTA?
BASTA, Inc. is a registered California public benefit corporation, as well as a federally recognized, 501c non-profit organization (see enclosed confirmation letter from the U.S. Department of Treasury). BASTA was founded from our founder’s living room in early 2005 with one assistant. Within two years, BASTA has evolved significantly and achieved some incredible milestones:
- Two offices – 2,500 sq. feet of office space in our McArthur Park Los Angeles headquarters and a separate office in Lancaster.
- Three full-time attorneys and two part time attorneys, all of whom have experience at major law firms, including Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil & Shapiro, LLP; Kaye Scholer; and McCutchen Doyle (now, Bingham McCutchen).
- Three full-time staff and three part-time staff.
- A Community Affairs Department headed by Rebeca Gomez, who has worked closely with LAHD inspectors for over a year to eradicate slum conditions in our city and county and led an ongoing community outreach and education effort.
- An intern program in partnership with the Public Interest Law Foundation of USC Law School (“PILF”). At present, we have six interns from USC. We have also had interns from Loyola Law School and Southwestern Law School.
- An approximately 80% winning percentage in eviction defense trials.
- Approximately $1,500,000 in affirmative compensation and rent waivers for our low-income clients.
- Successfully reviving the tenant’s constitutional right to a jury trial for unlawful detainers. We file jury demands and fee waivers in every case, and when jury fee waivers are denied by the Court, BASTA pays for the jury.
Within our Legal Department, BASTA maintains three litigation divisions in order to more comprehensively assist low-income tenants:
- Eviction Defense: All BASTA attorneys handle eviction defense cases. We charge only $350 per eviction defense jury trial – regardless of discovery that may be propounded by landlord attorneys, the number of appearances in court, or days in which we attend trial on the tenant’s behalf.
- Limited Jurisdiction Cases: BASTA prosecutes tenants’ lawsuits in the limited jurisdiction arena where a tenant can win up to $25,000 in damages for habitability claims or other actions by the landlord that violate the law. We believe in not only defending tenants but also inspiring them to actively fight back.
- Class/Mass Actions: When some tenants are too scared to fight, but a few brave souls are willing to demand their legal rights, we file class actions/mass actions in order to help every tenant in a particular building. Also, some buildings are so horrifically decrepit in Los Angeles that BASTA is compelled to remedy the untenable conditions in the entire location. We have settled four such matters within the last twelve months (a legal feat in and of itself).
In addition to our Legal Department, BASTA maintains a significant and thriving Community Affairs Department, whereby we inspect properties, notify governmental agencies (such as the LAHD) of deficient property conditions, and educate tenants as to their rights with ongoing community outreach efforts. There are many landlords who take advantage of low-income and uneducated tenants to escape providing them with habitable housing or to extort money from them above and beyond the legally permissible rent amounts. BASTA’s outreach efforts seek to stop such exploitation.
Few other organizations in Los Angeles County provide such a varied and comprehensive range of services to assist low-income tenants. Some groups are limited to community outreach and education. Other groups undertake only eviction defense cases. And, most groups are limited in some way – whether by income level, citizenship, or other restriction. This is not the case with BASTA! We help everybody who walks-thru the door regardless of income, race, ethnicity, immigration status, religion, sexual preference, or national origin. BASTA does not accept funding from any source that limits our ability to help people.
We are here to help low income tenants – often the most destitute and disenfranchised of our city. Indeed, Los Angeles Times reporter Jessica Garrison recently wrote a story about how there are thousands and thousands of unrepresented tenants being evicted every year because of insufficient number of public interest attorneys to represent them. BASTA is filling that need.