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Eviction in the News

Two local courts address housing needs
      Two important stories about local courts in Cleveland and Columbus using social interventions in support of judicial decisions.Cleveland Plain Dealer profiles "Cleveland Housing Court program helps those in need find safe landing from eviction"
September 09, 2016 Eviction up in Licking County.
     Despite some easing of economic conditions, eviction is a growth industry in Licking County. This story from the Columbus Dispatch features "Bernie the attorney" (an eviction specialist) and RHINO member David Greene. 
       From the story. "The number of eviction cases filed in Licking County Municipal Court has steadily increased each year since 2010. Last year, the county logged 1,078 cases, an increase of 8.6 percent from a decade earlier, in 2006, before the Great Recession. The county is on track for a similar number this year, with 712 cases. The eviction hearings occur once every two weeks, and a court date late last month had 82 eviction cases — the most this year. David Greene sat in the back row last week, whispering to tenants as they slid into their seats and offering a copy of Ohio’s tenant and landlord rights and obligations. He and others with the Freedom School, a community group in Licking County, attend most of the hearings to offer support to tenants."
      The story highlights the need for "pay to stay" legislation which would permit tenants some time catch up on back rent.

 August 13, 2016 Need an eviction attorney? There may be an app for that.
      Matthew Desmond, author of "Evicted" recommends universal representation for households facing eviction. Well, here comes Stanford student Joshua Browder. The Guardian reports: "Creator of chatbot that beat 160,000 parking fines now tackling homelessness." If you haven't heard of DoNotPay, the gist is that this 19 year old created a computer program to contest parking tickets and won over 160,000 cases. Now Mr. Browder is looking at eviction representation. "Teenager who designed DoNotPay to overturn tickets in London and New York expands service to assist those dealing with housing problems in the UK." 
     The start up will focus on the United Kingdom and, later, New York City and San Francisco. Mr. Browder admits he doesn't know much about the problem. ".... he used data gathered via the Freedom of Information Act to figure out trends in why public housing applications are approved or denied, as well as from a team of volunteer lawyers. This is so the bot can create the best possible application for each individual." The trick is to identify the available remedies that fit in each community. 

 December 4, 2015 Eviction in Columbus highlighted (as the funding runs out)
    Columbus Dispatch has a sympathetic article on Community Mediation Services' (CMS) program of eviction diversion which has been operating in the Franklin County Municipal Court for the past decade. 
    Here's the questions
  • Why after 5 years working with the court have the numbers of evictions not decreased? 
  • What is Cleveland doing that works better than Columbus?
    Why has CMS been helping to keep eviction "a best kept secret" until now when the money is running out? From the article: "With homelessness still at a high level in the Columbus area, a local mediation agency is calling for a greater focus on the staggering number of residents who face eviction. For the past decade, Franklin County has had more evictions filed — about 19,000 a year — than anywhere else in the state, said Shelley Whalen, executive director of Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio. Cuyahoga County has more residents but posts only about 12,000 eviction filings a year, Whalen said. 'Eviction, we think, is one of the best-kept secrets in this town,' Whalen said. 'The relevance to growing homelessness has been sorely overlooked.' The agency launched its Housing Stability/Homelessness Prevention Program in collaboration with Franklin County Municipal Court five years ago. Supporters say it has helped thousands of low-income residents resolve landlord-tenant disputes, get evictions dismissed, negotiate pay-to-stay arrangements or — if moving is unavoidable — voluntarily leave without a credit-damaging court action. But a grant that had provided more than $250,000 a year to help run the program is expiring, and Whalen is worried. 'It’s crazy to me that I’m as frightened as I am about our ability to continue to provide services,' she said."