SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - 10News was given an exclusive look at the often emotional and dangerous job that deputies have when enforcing the evictions of San Diegans from their homes.
“It can be as many as 50 but it varies day by day,” says San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputy Cassey Hawkins. She’s talking about the number of evictions that she and her partner, Deputy David Williams, can enforce every week.
Recently, 10News was allowed to ride along with the deputies as they conducted their enforcement operations. It was the first time that the media has gone around with San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputies as they assist with these types of Downtown court-ordered evictions.
Their jobs can place them in tense situations. In 2017, a shooting happened after a tenant in Bankers Hill reportedly threatened two deputies who were serving an eviction notice. “We don't know if [people are] going to cooperate or be uncooperative,” adds Deputy Hawkins.
Deputy Hawkins and her partner brought us to an apartment where we looked on as a locksmith changed the locks on a unit with an eviction. Esmeralda Hernandez is with Big City Property Management, which oversees the unit. “[The tenant] owed for almost 3 months and she owes $6,000 for rent,” says Hernandez.
Deputies find that tenants stop paying rent for a number of reasons, the most emotional of which happens when tenants appear to be struggling to make ends meet. “It can get hard when you see that they're going through a tough time and they're just down on their luck and they're trying to get back up on their feet but they can't,” adds Deputy Hawkins.
According to a recent report from the renters’ rights nonprofit Tenants Together, evictions affect about 500,000 California tenants each year. Rising housing costs are, in part, to blame.
“We have a wide range of services,” says attorney Gregory Knoll, CEO of Legal Aid Society of San Diego. It provides free help for a variety of issues, including housing problems. “We will represent anyone who is under 200% of federal poverty level who is faced with eviction in San Diego County,” adds Knoll. That means that a San Diego family of four bringing in less than $50,200 a year is eligible for legal assistance at no cost.
Knoll tells us that the organization offers free assistance in a variety of areas, including immigration, child custody and debt collections. The phone number is (877) LEGAL-AID. Additional resources can be found on the group's website.