Today, the White House and U.S. Department of Treasury are hosting a White House Summit on Building Lasting Eviction Prevention Reform. As funds for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) are beginning to wind down, the Summit will focus on the need for an all-out effort to build lasting reform – including through the use of remaining American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds from ERA and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) assistance. Having created a first-ever national infrastructure for eviction prevention, now is the time to ensure we build on this progress and prevent a return to an eviction system that allowed 3.6 million eviction filings a year, often for small amounts of funds and without any legal representation or eviction diversion options. The Summit will feature top Administration officials, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Sherrod Brown, Eviction Lab Founder Matthew Desmond, and will include State Supreme Court Justices and national, state, and local leaders who have pioneered lasting reform approaches that can serve as national models (see Appendix).
The Biden-Harris Administration is also highlighting the most current data on the impact of the Emergency Rental Assistance available as of this moment.
- Approximately 7 Million Payments to Renters and Their Families At Risk of Eviction While Making Landlords Whole and Meeting Equity Goals: 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% of assistance has gone to very low income renters, defined as renters at or below 50% Average Median Income, with majority-African American communities—who historically suffer among the highest rates of evections—seeing the largest reductions in evictions. Moreover, through March 31, 2022, state and local governments have served an additional 1.1 million households through rent, mortgage, and utility assistance using SLFRF from the American Rescue Plan, budgeting $4.5 billion in these funds for additional assistance beyond ERA.
- Instead of a Dramatic Eviction Spike Following the End of the Eviction Moratorium, Eviction Filings Have Remained 26% Below Historic Averages Nationally: Despite projections of an eviction “tsunami” following the end of the CDC eviction moratorium in August 2021, eviction filings nationally have remained 26% below historic averages in the 10 months since the end of the moratorium, based on an analysis of data collected by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.
- Assessment of ERA Impact by Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of Evicted and Eviction Lab Founder Matthew Desmond: “The Emergency Rental Assistance Program along with the federal eviction moratorium formed the most important federal housing policy in the last decade. These combined initiatives were the deepest investment in low-income renters the federal government has made since the nation launched its public housing system. This was a real win, the most important eviction prevention policy in American history.”
- The Biden-Harris Administration Push for Reform has Helped Contribute to Significant Increases in Eviction Diversion and Right to Counsel: From early after the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the Biden-Harris Administration led the initiative to encourage lasting reform. This included three White House Summits on Eviction Diversion; Treasury guidance enabling and encouraging 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; a pathbreaking letter from Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta to state courts encouraging them to immediately establish eviction diversion programs and sharing the National Center for State Court’s planning tool; an unprecedented call to action and meeting with State Supreme Court Justices by Attorney General Merrick Garland; and an Administration-led initiative that resulted in 99 Law Schools starting or expanding clinics to provide legal assistance for eviction. The legal community also responded to the Administration’s push for reform, including efforts by the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, National Conference of Bar Presidents, Legal Services Corporation, the Association for Pro Bono Counsel and Law Firm Antiracism Alliance.
- These Efforts Have Contributed to the Following Gains in Lasting Eviction Prevention Reform:
- Major Expansion in Eviction Diversion: Before the pandemic there were only a handful of eviction diversion programs. Since the Biden-Harris Administration’s push, 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% in 2019 to 14% in 2022. In New Mexico, eviction diversion reduced eviction filings to 36% belowhistoric averages across the state and 41% below historic averages in Albuquerque. In Philadelphia, PA, 85% of cases reached a settlement or an agreement to continue negotiation, and eviction filing rates have remained 53% of historic averages since the national moratorium ended in August 2021.
- Increased Right to Counsel for Tenants: Leading into the pandemic, only 5 cities had adopted a legislative right to counsel. Today, three states and fifteen cities have legislatively adopted the right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. In addition, nearly sixty cities expanded access to counsel for tenants using federal funds. In Michigan, as of June 2022, legal representation for tenants increased from 5% to 90-95%, in many places across the state, including Detroit. In New Orleans, LA, Legal Services Help Desks and Right to Counsel have obtained favorable outcomes that increased housing stability in 96% of cases. In Cleveland, OH, 93% of represented tenants avoided displacement and eviction filings dropped to nearly 50% below historic averages between August 2021, when the federal eviction moratorium ended, and March 2022, the last date of available data.
- ARP Supported New 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.
The White House Summit Will Highlight Overall Progress of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Top Models of Reform at the State and Local Court and Government Levels.
The Summit will feature overall policy views from top Administration Officials, Matthew Desmond, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition Diane Yentel, and Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Sherrod Brown, as well as models of visionary court-led reform, presented by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon, and New Orleans First City Court Chief Judge Veronica Henry. The Summit will also highlight top eviction prevention innovations in Chicago, IL, presented by Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Philadelphia, PA, presented by Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large); Cleveland, OH; Colorado; and Oregon.
The program will begin at 12:30 pm ET and is scheduled to conclude at 2:30pm ET.
The Urgent Need for Eviction System Reform
- Gene Sperling, White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator
- Matthew Desmond, Eviction Lab, Princeton University
- Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition
Visionary Court-Led Eviction System Reform
- Vanita Gupta, Associate Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
- Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, Michigan Supreme Court
- Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon, New Mexico Supreme Court
- Chief Judge Veronica Henry, New Orleans First City Court
Innovations in State and Local Eviction Prevention
- Jacob Leibenluft, Chief Recovery Officer, U.S. Department of Treasury
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
- Philadelphia Councilmember Helen Gym
- Andrea Bell, Oregon Housing and Community Services
- Hazel Remesch, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
- Zach Neumann, COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (Colorado)
Charge to Invest Remaining American Rescue Plan Funds in Housing Stability
- Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Congressional Efforts to Secure Housing Stability and Eviction Prevention
- Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (OH)
The Path Forward on Eviction Protections and Closing Remarks
- Erika Poethig, Special Assistant to the President for Housing and Urban Policy
APPENDIX: Eight Models of Top State and Local Innovations that Build on the Emergency Rental Assistance Infrastructure to Sustain Eviction Reform
Visionary Court-Led Eviction System Reform
Michigan: Adopting Long-Term Court-Based Eviction Diversion to Prevent Avoidable Evictions
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack issued one of the earliest standing orders during the pandemic to pause the eviction process once a rental assistance application has been submitted. Building on these best practices, the Michigan Supreme Court has proposed a new statewide order permanently adopting the stay of eviction action when a tenant applies for assistance. The proposed order requires a mandatory pre-trial convening to ensure tenants have access to rights and resources and prevents default judgments. It also prohibits five-day eviction orders, offers remote hearings for tenants with barriers to accessing courts, and attaches detailed information about assistance to every summons, among other best practices. The state also dedicated ERA housing stability funds to increase tenant access to legal counsel, with Detroit legislatively adopting right to counsel in 2022.
- The eviction rate has been cut in half from nearly 30% in 2019 to 14% in 2022.
- As of June 2022, legal representation for tenants increased from 5% to 90-95%, in many places across the state, including Detroit.
- According to the annual data collected for 2021 by the Michigan State Bar Foundation, 98% of households represented by a legal aid lawyer were able to remain in their homes.
- The Michigan diversion program has approved applications from 150,000 households and delivered $830 million in ERA to struggling tenants and landlords.
New Mexico: Leveraging American Rescue Plan Funding and Collaborating with Landlords and Tenants to Design Sustainable Eviction Diversion Programs
New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon created a task force of tenant and landlord groups, ERA program administrators, housing programs and state and local officials to design and launch one of the longest, most successful court-ordered eviction diversion programs in the country, including a mandatory extension of the lease term where landlords accept rental assistance. The eviction diversion program includes increased access to legal representation, mediation, and financial navigators to provide holistic services to tenants at risk of eviction. Due to the success of the program in reducing evictions, the state will continue to fund the eviction diversion program with state funds – initially made possible with American Rescue Plan funds.
- As of July 2022, the State has distributed $148 million in rent and utility payments as well as emergency hotel stays and moving costs. This funding has assisted over 44,000 households.
- Since the national eviction moratorium ended, eviction filing rates have remained well below average filings at about 64% of historic averages across the state of New Mexico and 59% in Albuquerque.
New Orleans: Implementing Eviction Diversion and Right to Counsel to Secure Court-Based Reform
Chief Judge Veronica Henry developed the First and Second City Courts’ award-winning Eviction Diversion Program, a partnership between the City of New Orleans, First and Second City Courts, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center (LFHAC), Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, and Parochial Offices of the Court. The program diverts eviction cases to on-site ERA administrators, Eviction Help Desks, the Right to Counsel Program, and other supportive services to prevent eviction and stabilize housing. New Orleans built on the diversion program by legislatively adopting the right to counsel for tenants facing eviction in 2022 and initially funding the intervention with $2 million in ERA funds.
- The First and Second City Courts’ Eviction Legal Services Help Desks and Right to Counsel Program have obtained favorable outcomes that increase housing stability in 96% of cases, including dismissals of eviction, consent judgments, providing more time to move, stipulated repayment arrangements, and other results to stabilize tenants.
- In June 2022, eviction filing rates were 10% below the average filing rate in a pre-pandemic year and default eviction judgments had dropped by nearly 20% from 2019 rates.
- Between February 2021 and June 2022, the New Orleans City Courts’ interventions have reached over 5,700 people, including tenants and their children, with 84% of households served identifying as African American and 72% headed by women.
State and Local Innovations in Eviction Prevention
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Mandating Pre-filing Eviction Diversion and Prohibiting Harmful Tenant Screening Practices
Philadelphia Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large) introduced the nation’s first city ordinance mandating pre-filing eviction diversion, which went into effect in August 2020. As a result, tenants at risk of eviction receive access to rental assistance and legal representation and tenants and landlords are required to participate in a free mediation session with the goal of resolution through an agreement. The diversion program has changed the culture to one where eviction litigation is a last resort. The city is committing long-term funding for rental assistance, a key component of diversion. In addition, Philadelphia adopted the Renters’ Access Act, which prohibits screening of tenants based on certain eviction filings and requires landlords to tell tenants why they were rejected and provide an opportunity to correct errors.
- The diversion program, in combination with ERA, greatly improved housing stability. 85% of cases have resulted in settlement or agreement to continue negotiation.
- These interventions have had a significant impact on eviction outcomes in Philadelphia. The eviction filing rate for Philadelphia has remained at 53% of historic averages since the CDC moratorium lifted in August 2021.
Chicago, Illinois: Access to Legal Services for Tenants and Landlords and Early Eviction Resolution
In July 2022, Chicago dedicated $8 million in ERA housing stability funds to adopt a three-year Right to Counsel pilot. The city is collaborating with legal service providers – Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Legal Aid Chicago, and CARPLS – to provide legal representation and increase housing stability. The program is expected to double the number of tenants who have access to attorneys, serving 2,000 to 3,000 tenants per year, and greatly reduce eviction orders. Chicago landlords and tenants have also benefited from the Cook County Early Resolution Program that diverts eviction cases to mediation and provides free legal aid to both tenants and unrepresented landlords. These programs have also effectively leveraged state law to seal pandemic-era eviction filing records for tenants, preventing the Scarlet E of eviction that results in a downward move and long-term hardship.
- In the first six months after the end of the local eviction moratorium, just 10% of eviction filings resulted in a judgment to remove the tenant, compared to 25% in the equivalent period before the pandemic and the Early Resolution Program. That represents a reduction of more than 2,000 eviction judgments.
- The City of Chicago has served over 19,000 tenants and their landlords with over $150 million in ERA funds.
Cleveland, Ohio: Permanently Adopting Right to Counsel and Serving Tenants at Highest Risk of Eviction
The City of Clevelandwas among the first cities in the United States to legislatively adopt right to counsel, immediately prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, initially funding the program through a public-private partnership including the City of Cleveland, United Way and the Cleveland Foundation, among others. As private funds sunset, Cleveland has allocated Emergency Rental Assistance funds and is working to sustain right to counsel with long-term government support and additional American Rescue Plan funding, and amplifying its effectiveness through the development of an eviction diversion program that includes pre-filing mediation. To ensure services reach those with the greatest need, partners have combined data analysis with canvassing and door knocking. Zip code data on eviction rates and the lowest number of requests for assistance allows partners to identify and target outreach to the most marginalized, highest risk tenants.
- These innovations prevented eviction judgments in 93% of cases and kept eviction filings around 51% of historic averages between August 2021, when the federal eviction moratorium ended, and March 2022, the last date of available data.
- Right to counsel has saved the City of Cleveland an estimated $4.3 to $4.7 million in annual costs related to healthcare savings, avoided foster care placements and safety net expenses, and preserved residency in Cleveland. Additional savings can be found in stable education, employment and family stability that follows eviction prevention.
Colorado: Partnering with Nonprofits to Provide Immediate Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance
In Colorado, the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project launched the Colorado Stability Fund, a unique revolving rental assistance fund capable of issuing quick, accurate ERA payments in less than 24 hours through a new partnership between the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (CEDP), Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), and Colorado’s Division of Housing (DOH). The Stability Fund is available to all Colorado renters and gives those facing eviction a single point of contact for housing stability services and integrates intake and navigation, rapid rental aid payments, eviction legal defense, and, when necessary, rehousing support. The initiative is strengthened by partnerships with legal aid organizations and organizations by and for Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities to ensure resources reach those at greatest risk of displacement with deference to cultural context. In Denver, the program works seamlessly with the right to counsel, adopted in 2021. To ensure continued eviction prevention, partners are working to sustain the program long-term with funds from the state and are expanding to other housing areas, including foreclosure.
- With over 70 intake staff ready to field requests, the Colorado Stability Fund offers a “fast lane” for displacement prevention, ensuring that services arrive prior to an eviction order.
- The program has halted thousands of evictions since its inception, served 20,000 people and issued over $50 million in payments, with 74% of recipients identifying as BIPOC or Hispanic.
Oregon: Community Partnerships to Provide Rapid Eviction Prevention to the Highest Risk Tenants
Oregon was one of the first states to supplement ERA funds with SLFRF and state funding. In addition, the state developed and funds the Eviction Prevention Rapid Response Program, a partnership between the Oregon Law Center and the Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) that serves as a critical element of the Eviction Defense Project. The program allows for rapid financial assistance to prevent eviction and homelessness, since legal aid can verify tenant eligibility and provide flexible funds to prevent evictions, including rental assistance, cleaning services, moving expenses, and more. OHCS also partners with community-based tenant organizations and nonprofits, including Unite Oregon, Bienestar, and the Springfield Eugene Tenants Association. During the height of the pandemic, these trusted community groups conduct outreach to community members at risk of eviction, including engaging in multi-lingual door knocking, and connecting their neighbors with resources to avoid eviction. As part of ongoing eviction prevention efforts, OHCS is also partnering with the Urban League of Portland, Immigrant and Refugee Organization (IRCO), and other community organizations statewide to conduct community outreach and provide critical eviction prevention services.
- Oregon also passed Safe Harbor legislation to seal pandemic eviction records created between April 2020 and February 2022 and postpone evictions for Oregonians waiting on rental assistance as their applications are processed.
- In 2021, eviction rates fell from nearly 1,500 filings a month before the pandemic to 377 per month during the first half of the year, with only 17% for nonpayment of rent.