LONG BEACH, Calif. – Renters facing eviction are getting some last-minute legal help.
Nina Bell lives in north Long Beach. She and her family fell behind on the rent and were scheduled for an eviction hearing. Moments before entering the courtroom without any representation she met attorney Matthis Chiroux.
“It felt good to have somebody in your corner. It felt real good to have somebody that knows the laws,” said Bell.
Chiroux took their case to trial for free.
“It’s the most powerful experience I’ve ever had as a lawyer, helping bring somebody back from over panic’s edge,” said Chiroux.
Chiroux was once a homeless drug dealer. To put the charges behind him, he signed up for the army. After years of service he fought in court because he refused deployment orders.
He says he wouldn’t be a practicing lawyer without the legal help he’s gotten along the way.
“It breaks my heart every single time in my career I’ve ever told somebody that desperately needed my services but couldn’t afford to pay that I wasn’t able to help them. It broke my heart and I never have to say that to anybody anymore,” said Chiroux.
Chiroux works for BASTA, a nonprofit helping troubled tenants. They normally charge a flat rate of $800 for walk-ins.
This new, last-minute lawyer service is free. They call it BASTA Universal.
Chiroux is in the Long Beach courthouse every Monday and Wednesday morning asking renters if they need a pro bono lawyer.
“I do what I do because Los Angeles County is overwhelmed right now with the worst homelessness epidemic I’ve ever seen anywhere in this country,” said Chiroux.
Bell and her husband are happy with the outcome. They were able to stay in their home.