White House Hosts Summit on Eviction Prevention
In early August, the White House hosted a virtual summit on “Building Lasting Eviction Prevention Reform.” As funds for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) are beginning to wind down, the meeting focused on the need for an all-out effort to build lasting eviction prevention reform.
The summit highlighted the impact the ERA program has made. As of July 2022, Treasury estimates show that ERA programs have made approximately 7 million payments to provide rental or utility assistance to individuals at risk for eviction or housing instability across the country. This has prevented evictions, utility shut-offs, and the sacrifice of food and medical help in order to stay current with rent. Over 80 percent of assistance has gone to very low-income renters, defined as renters at or below 50 percent Average Median Income. As a result, instead of a dramatic eviction spike following the end of the CDC’s eviction moratorium, eviction filings have remained 26 percent below historic averages nationally in the 10 months since the end of the moratorium. This is based on an analysis of data collected by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.
With a focus on lasting reform, summit organizers are seeking to put continued attention on building lasting eviction prevention reforms. Treasury guidance has enabled and encouraged the use of ERA funding for a broad range of expansive and innovative housing stability services, including legal assistance for tenants facing eviction, community-based outreach, and eviction diversion programs. As a result of various efforts, the summit highlighted the following gains in eviction prevention reform thus far.
Before the pandemic there were only a handful of eviction diversion programs. Now, approximately 180 jurisdictions in 36 states developed or enhanced eviction diversion programs with ERA. For example, State Supreme Courts in Michigan, Indiana, New Mexico, and Texas all adopted statewide eviction diversion programs, and Philadelphia extended its model pre-filing eviction diversion program. In Michigan, these efforts have cut the eviction rate in half, from nearly 30 percent in 2019 to 14 percent in 2022. In New Mexico, eviction diversion reduced eviction filings to 36 percent below historic averages across the state and 41 percent below historic averages in Albuquerque. In Philadelphia, 85 percent of cases reached a settlement or an agreement to continue negotiation, and eviction filing rates have remained 53 percent of historic averages since the national moratorium ended in August 2021.
Right to Counsel for Tenants
Leading into the pandemic, only five cities had adopted a legislative right to counsel. Now there are three states and 15 cities have legislatively adopted the right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. In addition, nearly 60 cities expanded access to counsel for tenants using federal funds.
American Rescue Plan-Supported Tenant Protections
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, since January 2021, 31 states and 67 localities (including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico) have passed or implemented policies totaling more than 154 unique tenant protections, including pauses on the eviction process while rental assistance applications are pending, right-to-counsel legislation, and eviction record sealing laws, among other reform policies.
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