Feb 10, 2020

The Urban Institute and Family Housing Fund Collaborate on Eviction Prevention

Family Housing Fund is dedicated to improving housing stability by preventing eviction and reducing involuntary moves in the Twin Cities region. We are proud of our progress in Ramsey County, where we have worked together with many partners to make on-site legal, financial, and mediation resources available to renters defending against eviction at Housing Court. The Court also instituted a series of important court process changes and amended Court-issued forms to help better inform renters of their rights and make expungements more accessible.

Last year, FHFund President Ellen Sahli was selected by the Urban Institute for the 2019 Janice Nittoli Practitioner Fellowship to advance strategies that reduce evictions and support housing stability. Since then, FHFund has been working closely with the Urban Institute team to evaluate our eviction prevention work and share the lessons we have learned. As we expand our eviction prevention efforts to additional counties, we hope to demonstrate that this approach is scalable for the entire Twin Cities region and that it can inform state and national approaches to eviction prevention.

Watch: Teaming Up to Prevent Eviction in Minnesota

A Head Start for Eviction Prevention: Reaching Families Before They’re in a Housing Crisis

We know that by the time tenants are defending against eviction at Court, it is often too late to prevent all the damage that we otherwise could have. In many cases, a move-out – whether Court-ordered or as part of a settlement agreement – is hard to avoid. This is why FHFund and our partners are working to create interventions upstream of the emergency, before evictions are filed.

Last fall, we partnered with Neighborhood House to bring the many Housing Court partners together at Neighborhood House’s weekly Crisis Clinics. The goal was to help individuals and families address emergencies prior to receiving an eviction filing, in the hopes of avoiding it entirely. Co-locating Ramsey County Emergency Assistance, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, and the Dispute Resolution Center in a “one-stop shop” in a neighborhood setting provides a more comfortable space for families to resolve their emergencies and avoid the damage of an eviction filing. (Volunteer Lawyers Network, while not involved in the weekly Crisis Clinic, is an important partner at the courthouse clinic.) The Urban Institute visited the Neighborhood House Crisis Clinic last fall, interviewed clients and service providers, and spotlights the work on their website.  

Urban Institute researchers are now analyzing the data collected over the first months of the Crisis Clinic to help us understand its impact on the individuals served. FHFund and the Urban team will work together to understand and share these results, and the lessons learned will guide our work as we continue to address the root causes of eviction.

Everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home. We will continue working to achieve that goal and ensure that, once families find housing that meets their needs, they are equipped to stay there.

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