Legal Counsel for Eviction

How free legal help can prevent evictions, By Teresa Wiltz, October 27, 2017, Stateline: “In much of the country, more and more renters are devoting larger and larger portions of their income to rent. For low-income families, this can push them further into poverty and put them at risk for being evicted — and becoming homeless. Evictions destabilize families, forcing them into poorer neighborhoods with higher crime rates. And evictions cost cities money: After a family is evicted, a city can end up losing thousands of dollars in property taxes and unpaid utility bills, and may have to bear increased costs from homeless shelters and hospitals…”

The Columbian Series on Eviction – Clark Co, WA

  • Getting evicted: A 1-2 punch, By Patty Hastings, October 22, 2017, The Columbian: “Charmaine Crossley and Kate Dunphy talk in hushed voices on the top floor of the Clark County Courthouse, plotting what to say to keep Crossley and her family from being evicted. Dunphy, the deputy director of the Tenants Union of Washington State, advises Crossley on how best to defend herself if the judge denies her request for more time…”
  • A day in eviction court can be hard to navigate, By Patty Hastings, October 22, 2017, The Columbian: “A man in the third row of benches is dozing, his soft snores occasionally jolting him awake. Fluorescent lights buzz overhead. It seems dull, but lives change in this courtroom, where every Friday a Clark County Superior Court judge hears the unlawful-detainer docket. The vast majority of renters facing unlawful-detainer lawsuits, or evictions, lose their cases. They are ordered to pay back rent, late fees and the landlord’s attorney costs. Once the order is recorded and they vacate, future landlords will be less willing to rent to them…”
  • Evictions: Tools are available to help, but organizations struggle to keep up, By Patty Hastings, October 23, 2017, The Columbian: “More than 1,100 eviction notices were filed in Clark County last year, and the same number are expected this year. Several agencies around Clark County operate rental-assistance programs that, in many cases, prevent evictions from happening. However, the programs are costly and can’t help everyone…”
  • Advocates, landlords at odds over some tenant protections, By Patty Hastings, October 23, 2017, The Columbian: “A law in Washington that became effective in June 2016 allows tenants to seek an order of limited dissemination, which basically stops screening agencies from showing a prior eviction or using that past to calculate a rental score…”

Legal Representation in Evictions

Denver landlords tried to evict nearly 8,000 households last year. The success rate largely depended on one factor: attorneys., By Jennifer Brown, September 13, 2017, Denver Post: “Denver landlords tried to evict nearly 8,000 households last year. Their success depended largely on one factor: whether their tenants hired an attorney. And they almost never did. In Denver County eviction court, landlords have an attorney about 90 percent of the time. Tenants, on the other hand, are represented by counsel about 1 percent of the time, according to new research by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, which reviewed 93,000 eviction filings from 2001 through last year…”

Housing and Eviction

  • ‘Here for the eviction’: More renters forced from homes as affordable-housing crisis deepens, By Alden Woods, July 16, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Ken Sumner stepped through the debris of another unexpected move. He weaved around the two men backing a truck through their friend’s barren yard, past a speaker system and stacks of framed photographs, moving toward the front door for his fifth eviction of the day. The evicted man waited alone…”
  • Councilman proposes legal aid for tenants in Baltimore facing evictions, By Doug Donovan, July 17, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “A Baltimore city councilman introduced legislation Monday aimed at establishing a fund that would help low-income tenants facing eviction and other housing problems to hire attorneys, an effort that cities across the nation are exploring or have implemented…”

Eviction in Southern California

Eviction decline is no solace for thousands of renters losing their homes, By Jeff Collins, May 28, 2017, Orange County Register: “Joann Nieves spent the first week after her eviction sleeping in her Chevy pickup with her three young sons. ‘It was kind of uncomfortable,’ said Jacob, 11, her oldest. To her youngest, 6-year-old Anthony, ‘it was scary.’ Things have improved since then. Nieves, 36, now sleeps on an air mattress on the living room floor of her boyfriend’s mom’s house in Santa Ana, while her sons share a bed in one of the bedrooms…”

Eviction – Baltimore, MD

  • Dismissed: Low-income renters in Baltimore become migrants in their own city, By Doug Donovan and Jean Marbella, May 6, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “When the furnace in their West Baltimore rowhouse broke last winter, Denise and Marvin Jones did what they could to keep their family warm — and together. They filed a complaint against their landlord. They boiled pots of water and ran space heaters. They sent their four children to bed bundled in coats, hats and gloves. ‘I didn’t want to separate them,’ Denise said, crying. But ‘it was so cold.’ The family split up in January, fanning out to the heated homes of different relatives across the city even as they continued to pay the $950 monthly rent at their own cold home. They sometimes checked in to motels just to spend a few nights together. But as temperatures rose with the coming of spring, so did their spirits. After five months, their complaint was advancing in Baltimore District Court. And Marvin had located a new home…”
  • Evictions perpetuate Baltimore’s cycle of poverty, Editorial, May 8, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “Evictions are devastating for the families who go through them. The process is all-consuming. Low-income tenants spend hours going to court to plead their cases or begging family, friends and social service agencies for help. They lose time at work, and an already precarious financial situation becomes worse. They live in anxiety about every knock on the door, wondering whether it might be a property agent or sheriff’s deputies ready to dump all their belongings onto the street. And if the worst comes, they may find themselves suddenly homeless, struggling to keep the family together, desperate to provide any sense of normalcy for their children as they are torn away from neighborhoods and schools…”

Nuisance Policies and Eviction

ACLU sues city over nuisance policy, alleges it punishes domestic violence victims, By Mary Emily O’Hara, April 7, 2017, NBC News: “The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Maplewood, Missouri, over a policy that allegedly evicts domestic violence victims and banishes them from the St. Louis suburb if they call police for help more than twice in six months…”

Housing and Eviction – Milwaukee, WI

  • Tenants caught in legal tangle get evicted, By Cary Spivak, February 24, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Briana Shipp is caught in a legal whirlpool that won’t stop swirling. Shipp, a 29-year-old single mother, says in the past year she lost her home and possessions when she was evicted on the orders of Elijah Mohammad Rashaed, long one of Milwaukee’s most notorious central-city landlords. Her possessions, she said, were either thrown out or stolen when she was locked out of her house on N. 41st St.  The August eviction — which Shipp argues was illegal — stems from a bedazzling set of circumstances that left Shipp and a group of other Rashaed tenants unsure of whom to pay their rent. As a result, several ended up in eviction court, which has hampered their ability to find new places because many landlords won’t rent to people with evictions on their record…”
  • No title? No worry. LLC that no longer owns house files to evict Milwaukee family, By Cary Spivak, March 3, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The eviction suit filed against Jesse White last month stands out from the nearly 900 other evictions filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last month. The difference: Kaja Holdings 2 LLC  — the company seeking to throw the 79-year-old man and his two teenage sons out — does not own the house on N. 26th St. where the family lives. The company lost title to the property on Oct. 31 in a tax foreclosure…”
  • Watchdog Report: Landlord Games, series homepage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With little consequence in the courts, Milwaukee landlords have learned how to play the system, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill…”

Evictions and Homelessness – New York City

NYC to target evictions in bid to curb homelessness, By Josh Dawsey, September 28, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “As Mayor Bill de Blasio struggles to control rising homelessness in New York, the city plans to hire more lawyers to help financially stressed residents avoid eviction—especially in neighborhoods that are quickly gentrifying. By mid-2017, the city will be spending $60 million annually—up from about $34 million now—on an expanded legal team to address the flow of homeless into an already overburdened shelter system and the number of people living on the streets. The city has found that about 32% of the families in its shelters were evicted from their homes…”

Public Housing Eviction Policies

Public housing safety policy can hit whole family, By Rachelle Blidner (AP), September 15, 2014, ABC News: “Wanda Coleman sits in the New York City public housing apartment where she’s lived for 25 years, surrounded by empty rooms, bare walls and suitcases lined up by the front door. Any day now, she and her teen daughter will be evicted and have no other option than to go to a homeless shelter — partly because of her son’s criminal case…”

Legal Aid for the Poor

  • Residents of Los Angeles County’s poorest areas to get help in keeping their homes, By Victoria Kim, May 2, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “Thousands of residents in Los Angeles’ poorest neighborhoods will get new legal help in fighting high-stakes eviction cases involving slumlords and foreclosures under a pilot project approved by the state’s judicial leaders Friday. The new Eviction Legal Assistance Center at Los Angeles County Superior Court’s downtown civil courthouse will provide legal representation to about 15,000 people facing eviction over three years, according to legal aid groups, which will be jointly running the center…”
  • State’s chief judge pledges more aid for poor in courts, By Thomas Kaplan, May 2, 2011, New York Times: “New York’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, on Monday called the state’s routine failure to provide lawyers for poor criminal defendants being arraigned in local courts a problem that ‘can no longer be tolerated,’ and pledged to remedy the situation within a year. Judge Lippman, in a speech at the State Court of Appeals, said too many New Yorkers were needlessly spending nights in jail after appearing without legal counsel at criminal arraignments in small-town and village courthouses. He vowed that the state would spend $10 million in an effort to improve the availability of legal defense provided to the poor…”

Evaluation of Homelessness Prevention Program – New York City

To test housing program, some are denied aid, By Cara Buckley, December 8, 2010, New York Times: “It has long been the standard practice in medical testing: Give drug treatment to one group while another, the control group, goes without. Now, New York City is applying the same methodology to assess one of its programs to prevent homelessness. Half of the test subjects – people who are behind on rent and in danger of being evicted – are being denied assistance from the program for two years, with researchers tracking them to see if they end up homeless. The city’s Department of Homeless Services said the study was necessary to determine whether the $23 million program, called Homebase, helped the people for whom it was intended. Homebase, begun in 2004, offers job training, counseling services and emergency money to help people stay in their homes. But some public officials and legal aid groups have denounced the study as unethical and cruel, and have called on the city to stop the study and to grant help to all the test subjects who had been denied assistance…”

Homeless Families in Shelters

Number of families in shelters rises, By Michael Luo, September 11, 2010, New York Times: “For a few hours at the mall here this month, Nick Griffith, his wife, Lacey Lennon, and their two young children got to feel like a regular family again. Never mind that they were just killing time away from the homeless shelter where they are staying, or that they had to take two city buses to get to the shopping center because they pawned one car earlier this year and had another repossessed, or that the debit card Ms. Lennon inserted into the A.T.M. was courtesy of the state’s welfare program. They ate lunch at the food court, browsed for clothes and just strolled, blending in with everyone else out on a scorching hot summer day. ‘It’s exactly why we come here,’ Ms. Lennon said. ‘It reminds us of our old life.’ For millions who have lost jobs or faced eviction in the economic downturn, homelessness is perhaps the darkest fear of all. In the end, though, for all the devastation wrought by the recession, a vast majority of people who have faced the possibility have somehow managed to avoid it. Nevertheless, from 2007 through 2009, the number of families in homeless shelters – households with at least one adult and one minor child – leapt to 170,000 from 131,000, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development…”

Economic Stimulus and Eviction Rate – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee County evictions fell with stimulus, study shows, By Georgia Pabst, August 30, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With a 2-year-old and a baby on the way, Jenny Furne said she started to worry that she and her growing family would be homeless. She said she moved to Milwaukee last year from another state to escape from a domestic violence situation and found a job in sales. But after she lost her job and couldn’t find another one, she fell a month behind in the rent on her north side apartment. Although she signed up for W-2, the state’s welfare-to-work program, she initially received a partial payment of $300, not enough to cover her rent of $510 a month. ‘Two weeks before having my baby, I got an eviction notice,’ said Furne, 24. ‘I was freaking out because I didn’t know if I would have a home to come back to with the baby.’ She went to Community Advocates and explained her predicament. Using federal stimulus money designed to stem evictions and prevent homelessness, the agency paid the $510 rent owed, buying Furne the time she needed to get her W-2 check and get on track. Furne isn’t the only one who has been helped from the brink of homelessness. According to a Harvard University study that looked at local eviction records, the influx of federal stimulus money to help stem homelessness coincided with 836 fewer evictions filed in Milwaukee County from August 2009 to March 2010, compared with the same period the previous year…”

Poor Women and Eviction

A sight all too familiar in poor neighborhoods, By Erik Eckholm, February 18, 2010, New York Times: “Shantana Smith, a single mother who had not paid rent for three months, watched on a recent morning as men from Eagle Moving carried her tattered furniture to the sidewalk. Bystanders knew too well what was happening. ‘When you see the Eagle movers truck, you know it’s time to get going,’ a neighbor said. On Milwaukee’s impoverished North Side, the mover’s name is nearly as familiar as McDonald’s, because Eagle often accompanies sheriffs on evictions. They haul tenants’ belongings into storage or, as Ms. Smith preferred, leave them outside for tenants to truck away. Here and in swaths of many cities, evictions from rental properties are so common that they are part of the texture of life. New research is showing that eviction is a particular burden on low-income black women, often single mothers, who have an easier time renting apartments than their male counterparts, but are vulnerable to losing them because their wages or public benefits have not kept up with the cost of housing. And evictions, in turn, can easily throw families into cascades of turmoil and debt…”

Public Housing Proposals – Hawaii

Hawaii tackles unpaid rents, By Mary Vorsino, February 11, 2010, Honolulu Advertiser: “Incoming public housing tenants could be subject to credit checks and visits to their current home under proposals meant to better screen applicants and cut down on delinquent renters. The planned changes are troubling some advocates, who say making it harder for low-income people to get into public housing will only worsen the housing crisis. But public housing officials say the changes are meant to decrease the number of tenants who fail to pay or who damage units, spurring costly repairs that add up quickly. And they point out that other public housing authorities already take similar steps. In December, more than 20 percent of the thousands of households in public housing were behind on their rent, with the Hawai’i Public Housing Authority owed as much as $1 million. The planned screening measures are part of other proposed changes to decrease rent delinquency in public housing, including speeding up evictions, and come as the agency attempts to tackle an aging public housing inventory, deal with budget shortfalls and catch up on tens of millions of dollars in backlogged repairs…”

Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program

Demand overwhelms program to prevent homelessness, By Tony Pugh, January 12, 2010, Miami Herald: “In rural communities and urban areas alike, one of the least expensive and most unheralded new initiatives of the stimulus bill is quietly saving hundreds of thousands of Americans from homelessness. Now housing advocates want Congress to boost the program’s $1.5 billion funding as the vast need for more assistance becomes evident nationwide. The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program is expected to help 600,000 people by moving some from homeless shelters into their own apartments and by providing rent payments to prevent others from being evicted. Because the assistance is temporary – usually for three months to 18 months – the program tries to target people who are most in need and can who can return to self-sufficiency within a few months…”

Home Foreclosures and Renters – Maryland

More Maryland renters caught amid foreclosure, By Jamie Smith Hopkins, December 30, 2009, Baltimore Sun: “Marjorie Benedum and her husband, Mel Harris, knew their landlord was facing foreclosure but were reassured when he said they could keep renting the Southwest Baltimore house after his family lost it. Then Harris, who is 79 and retired, came home from church three weeks ago to find a sheriff’s notice on the door. Get out in 10 days, it said, or be evicted. ‘We weren’t sure what we were going to do,’ recalled Benedum, 62. More and more renters have been caught up in the national foreclosure crisis, and lenders taking back those homes nearly always want them gone. That has proved tremendously disruptive for the tenants, despite state and federal laws enacted in May to try to ease the pain. Maryland law requires that lenders notify renters before foreclosing on landlords, but – as was the case for Benedum and Harris – the letters do not always get into the right hands…”

Eviction and Poverty

Study highlights effect of evictions on poor, By Georgia Pabst, January 1, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Yolanda Luckett had just finished mopping the stairs leading to the three-bedroom upper duplex flat she and her four children moved into last month. ‘I’m in the ghetto, but this is a nice place and I hope I can stay here,’ she said. But the rent is $675 a month, and it will be hard to stretch her Wisconsin Works check of $673 plus the child support she gets to pay for rent, utilities and other necessities, she said. After years of working as a certified nursing assistant and living in one place, Luckett, 36, said she started running into troubles about four years ago. The troubles included getting laid off from her job and a series of evictions from apartments that went from bad to worse. She was able to move into her new place with an emergency assistance grant from Community Advocates. According to a new study, considered the first of its kind on evictions, Luckett finds herself in an all-too-common situation among Milwaukee’s urban poor. The study found that one renter-occupied household in 20 is evicted each year in Milwaukee. In neighborhoods where blacks are the majority, the study found that number jumps to one in 10 renter-occupied households evicted every year…”