Today the White House hosted a first of its kind virtual Eviction Prevention Summit. The Summit included two parts: a public plenary on best practices on eviction prevention and a series of breakout sessions for local public officials, court officials, legal services organizations, local bar associations, community-based organizations, landlord associations, tenant advocates, emergency rental assistance administrators, and local philanthropies representing 46 cities across the country to develop eviction prevention action plans for their local areas. Following the CDC’s announcement last week of a final, one-month extension of the eviction moratorium until July 31st, the Administration announced a series of actions to stabilize families and prevent evictions, including steps to encourage state and local governments to disburse the more than $46 billion in emergency rental assistance made available to assist households in need.
Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice opened the Summit by welcoming participants, emphasizing the President’s commitment to assisting renters, and highlighting the whole-of-government approach being implemented by the Administration. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo highlighted the importance of emergency rental assistance to prevent evictions among the most vulnerable. White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling made the case for why eviction diversion programs are the best immediate intervention to prevent a wave of new evictions. Matthew Desmond, one of the country’s leading researchers on evictions, presented an overview of the latest research, including on the risk of evictions following the end of the CDC moratorium and how diversionary programs could mitigate these risks.
The President of the American Bar Association, Patricia Lee Refo, then moderated a panel to provide examples of how eviction diversion programs can be paired with emergency rental assistance to keep people housed. Panelists included Rasheedah Phillips, Managing Attorney of Housing Policy, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, the head of the largest legal services provider in Philadelphia; Rene Solis, Chief Program Officer at BakerRipley, the Emergency Rental Assistance provider in Houston-Harris County; Hon. Bridget Mary McCormack, Chief Justice, Michigan Supreme Court; and Gilbert Winn, CEO of WinnCompanies, a national landlord with a robust housing stability strategy.
Following the panel, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta highlighted recent recommendations and best practices from a letter she sent to chief justices of state supreme courts and state court administrators, and Secretary Marcia Fudge concluded the first session of the Summit by highlighting the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s work to prevent evictions and underscoring the importance of keeping people housed.
Speakers at the second session included Erika Poethig, Special Assistant to the President for Housing and Urban Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council; Clarence Wardell, Chief Data and Equitable Delivery Officer, White House American Rescue Plan Implementation; Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition; Emily Benfer, Visiting Professor of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law; and Danielle Hirsch, Principal Court Management Consultant, National Center for State Courts. Following their remarks, attendees split into groups with others from their city to develop eviction prevention action plans before sharing their commitments with the larger group and concluding the Summit.