A Remarkably Simple Solution to Eviction Prevention

written by naehblog
March 16, 2011

Last week the Alliance released a series of profiles focusing on eviction prevention strategies. Specifically, this series examined evictions from public housing units and focused on the successful work of the Tri-City area of Massachusetts; King County, Washington; and Cleveland, Ohio.

Research has shown that a housing subsidy is the single most effective tool in preventing homelessness because it makes market-rate housing affordable. All too often these subsidies are lost through an eviction and it becomes extremely difficult for a household to find affordable housing, thereby placing them at a heightened and totally preventable risk of homelessness.

While public housing authorities (PHA) and direct service providers may not always see eye-to-eye, these partnerships have proven to be very successful and have become the foundation for a richer and more sustained relationship between the organizations.

As it turns out it isremarkably simple to prevent evictions for most households. Assistance with paperwork or one-time cash assistance was generally all that was needed. That is because in many communities, evictions occur due to incomplete paperwork and/or failure to pay rent on time (the latter is often caused by some life change – loss of job, family conflict, etc.).

Our Eviction Prevention series highlights three communities that made these strategies work:

  • In Massachusetts, the Malden Housing Authority partnered with the nonprofit Housing Families, Inc. to provide interventions to tenants who were behind on rent payments and had received an eviction warning notice. Interventions included one-time cash assistance, case management, or a combination of both. To date, every family who has participated in the program has remained stably housed.
  • In King County, the eviction prevention initiative was spearheaded by the King County Housing Authority’s Resident Services and Housing Management departments and focused on the early identification of tenants at risk of eviction. Since the start of this concerted effort, there has been asharp reduction in evictions – no more than six in each year of the new program.
  • Cleveland, Ohio found that an unacceptably high level of elderly persons and persons with disabilities were being evicted from subsidized housing administered by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) because they had not submitted necessary renewal paperwork. CMHA partnered with local service provider EDEN, Inc. and referred to EDEN a list of households who were at risk of eviction. Of the list of at-risk tenants, EDEN was able to contact at least 92 percent each month. Of tenants contacted, EDEN was able to complete the necessary recertification paperwork and prevent an eviction in every single case.

There is not a one-size-fits-all strategy for prevention. However, these profiles show how evictions can be prevented with minimal resources.

Has your community reduced evictions from subsidized housing through PHA/nonprofit partnerships? Let us know!

Image courtesy of Onilad.