Charleston Housing Court Pilot Project in South Carolina

The Charleston County Housing Court provides legal help to low-income families facing eviction. The objective of the court is to help tenants avoid eviction through mediation with the landlord, providing help to pay rent or assessing whether the eviction was legally served.

Basic Information

Program Name

Charleston County Housing Court

Short Description

The Charleston County Housing Court provides legal help to low-income families facing eviction. The objective of the court is to help tenants avoid eviction through mediation with the landlord, providing help to pay rent or assessing whether the eviction was legally served.

Location

North Charleston, South Carolina

Duration

10/02/2019 – ongoing

Funding

Rental assistance funding is provided through the SC Bar Foundation. No other funding is provided at this time. Representation is provided by 4 legal service agencies and pro bono attorneys.

Size (number of beneficiaries)

105, as of February 2020.


Stakeholders

Who designed and set up the program? 

Partners in the program include:

  • South Carolina Access to Justice Commission,
  • One80 Place Legal Services,
  • Charleston Legal Access,
  • Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services,
  • Charleston County Magistrate Courts,
  • the Charleston School of Law,
  • Trident Urban League,
  • 2-1-1 Hotline,
  • the City of Charleston and
  • Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

Who runs and manages the program?

One80 Place Legal Services coordinates the program. The others involved include pro bono attorneys, students from the Charleston School of Law, and the Charleston Trident Urban League, a social service agency who received the grant to provide rental assistance.

Who funds the program?

Rental assistance funding is provided through the SC Bar Foundation. No other funding is provided at this time. Representation is provided by 4 legal service agencies and pro bono attorneys.

Intended Beneficiaries: Who does the program target?

Low-income tenants.


Program Details

How does the program work? What are the typical paths of action that the beneficiary + the service-provider take?

The court established 3 magistrates to be judges in the pilot court program. They establish criteria of which tenants/defendants are eligible for participation in the pilot program.

Tenants who are sued for eviction then can either connect with the program proactively to participate in the pilot, or they can be informed on the day of their eviction hearing about the possibility of participation.

When a tenant receives an eviction notice, they also receive an information sheet instructing them to contact the 211 Hotline to be referred to an attorney. When they call the hotline, they can be connected with legal services, meet with attorneys, and determine if they might be eligible for full representation in court.

If the tenant does not call 211, but instead calls the court and requests a hearing, the tenant will be scheduled for the Housing Court docket day and an attorney will be present to represent the tenant at that time.

The service providers also place someone at court on the day of housing hearings to let tenants know that representation might be available to them.

The attorneys working with the tenants will work with them to identify possible defenses and rights they have in the situation, and to mediate with landlords, in order to resolve the matter outside of a trial.

What assets can be shared for others to use? 


Evidence Base

What are the plans for monitoring and evaluation?

Data is currently being collected to evaluate the success of the Housing Court.

Have any evaluations been conducted so far?

N/a


Contact and Follow-Up Info

Program Website

None at this time.

Point of Contact for more information

Jeff Yungman, Director of One80 Place Legal Services, at jyungman[@] one80place.org

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