One of the most popular types of eviction prevention efforts are Eviction Diversion Programs. This model involves incentivizing tenants and landlords to enter a mediation program to come to a mutually acceptable agreement outside of court.
- What is an Eviction Diversion program?
- Key options for an Eviction Diversion Program
- What kind of Eviction Diversion program is right for your jurisdiction?
- Emergency Rental Assistance How-To Toolkit
- Read more on Eviction Diversion Program best practices
- Explore Eviction Diversion programs around the country
- A full list of Eviction Diversion Programs
What is an Eviction Diversion program?
Many local jurisdictions have an array of social, legal, mediation, and housing services available to landlords & tenants.
An Eviction Diversion Program formalizes these services into a clear, coordinated process. Landlords or tenants can sign up for the Program. They then receive a continuum of services to help avoid an official eviction court order, and reach a settlement plan that works for both of them.
They also receive rental assistance and social services to help address the root problems of the dispute.
An Eviction Diversion Program is a holistic combination of services that divert a landlord-tenant dispute away from a court judgment.
An Eviction Diversion Program aims to have landlords and tenants create a mutually acceptable agreement that stops the court case from proceeding — and that ultimately promotes housing stability.
Diversion programs do this by coordinating multiple streams of help:
- Rental assistance to make the tenant and landlord whole again, to make up for rent owed;
- Legal representation to ensure that the law is being followed and people’s rights are being upheld — including the masking of eviction records;
- Mediation services to help broker a settlement agreement, payment plan, and forward steps for the landlord and tenant;
- Other financial and social services to help stabilize the tenant’s situation, get more financial resources, connect to housing resources, help support the children involved, and get health resources as needed.
Key options for an Eviction Diversion Program
If a local group is creating a new Eviction Diversion Program (or formalizing current services into an official program), they may have some key choices to make about how to run the Program.
- Court-led or Court-adjacent? Does the court coordinate and host the program? Do all tenants and landlords in the court know about the program, and are the services woven into the court process? Or is the court more of a supporting player, with some limited coordination with other groups that are driving the program?
- Is the program available for tenants & landlords pre-filing or post-filing? The post-filing Eviction Diversion programs begin once an eviction lawsuit has been filed in court, by the landlord against a tenant. The pre-filing Eviction Diversion programs can begin when a warning notice is given, or even when there is a dispute or back-rent situation that arises.
- Mandatory or not to participate, to use the court? Do all landlords and tenants who want to use the courts for an eviction, need to use the Diversion program? Or, for any landlord that wants to evict for nonpayment of rent — do they need to first go through the Eviction Diversion Program? Or is participation totally voluntary?
- Income requirements? Do tenants or landlords have to prove that they are below a certain financial threshold to participate? Do they need to prove a COVID-hardship?
- Mandatory status conference? Will the court require a pre-trial status conference in which the judge explains the diversion program to the litigants?
- Formalized into law? Will there be a court administrative order, a local law, or a statewide law that formally creates the eviction diversion program? And that sets forth rules around court procedure and mandatory procedure?
What kind of Eviction Diversion program is right for your jurisdiction?
The National Center for State Courts have produced a website, the Eviction Diversion Diagnostic Tool, to help courts and other leaders determine what kind of new court-based or court-adjacent eviction program might be a good fit.
You will be asked a number of questions about your jurisdiction and your goals for a potential eviction diversion program. These answers will build a custom resource guide that will offer you important considerations, best practices, and resources on eviction diversion based on the type of eviction diversion program that seems like the best fit for your jurisdiction.
Emergency Rental Assistance How-To Toolkit
The Emergency Rental Assistance Toolkit is a 12-part series of how-to guides for making more impactful, equitable, and accessible Emergency Rental Assistance Programs. The ERA Toolkit was made by the National League of Cities and Stanford Legal Design Lab, based on their technical assistance and research with cities across the US.
Read more on Eviction Diversion Program best practices
US Dept. of Justice letter
United States Assoc. Attorney General Vanita Gupta issued a June 2021 letter to state court administrators, urging them to use eviction diversion programs.
This 4 page letter offers clear guidance about how courts can deploy eviction diversion strategies & full programs to mitigate harms in eviction actions.
Harvard/ABA June 2021 report on Eviction Diversion Programs
This June 2021 report from Harvard Law School & the American Bar Association, “Designing for Housing Stability: Best Practices for Court-Based and Court-Adjacent Eviction Prevention and/or Diversion Programs” summarizes the best practices on:
- designing new programs with multi-sectoral coalitions
- combining assistance, services, mediation, and legal representation
- doing early and preventative outreach for the services
- centering its users (tenants and landlords) throughout the process
Urban Institute report on Diversion Programs during the pandemic
The Urban Institute has a May 2021 report, Eviction Prevention and Diversion Programs: Early Lessons from the Pandemic.
It has a national scan of what programs exist, and it identifies key trends and issues at work in programs across the country.
Eviction Diversion Fact Sheet
The Network for Public Health Law has a succinct fact sheet on Eviction Diversion & Prevention programs, that let actors know what options are open to them when setting up a diversion program.
It also has key statistics and examples on what can be done.
Explore Eviction Diversion programs around the country
- Eviction Intervention in the court house in Fort WayneA unique partnership in the Indiana town of Fort Wayne has created an in-court eviction prevention service to reach more tenants and landlords before they go to trial, with services and guidance that can help them come to a resolution and get financial help without going to court.
- Online court mediation & services in Monroe County, IndianaThe Housing & Eviction Prevention Project (HEPP) in Indiana provides free legal, mediation, and social services to court. It includes integration into the court process, so once people are facing an eviction trial, they may be linked to services that can help them resolve their problem out of court.
- NAACP eviction navigators & diversion program in South CarolinaThis new South Carolina pilot from the NAACP and other local partners combines various prevention and help services for tenants and landlords at risk of eviction.
- Orange County, Florida eviction diversion programIn an effort to help curb evictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners created the Orange County COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Program. The $13.3 million program is funded by the Federal CARES Act monies.
- Eviction Diversion Program in Pinellas County, FloridaRenters and landlords in Pinellas County, Florida are eligible for a COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Program to help them reach a mutual agreement, pay back-rent, get help with stable housing and financial assistance, and navigate social services. It is run by the Community Law Program in the county.
- Texas statewide Eviction Diversion ProgramThe new Texas statewide eviction diversion program offers help during COVID-19 to renters and landlords. It applies once a lawsuit has been filed, and tenants are behind on rent.
- PHL Eviction Diversion Program in PhiladelphiaThe Philadelphia City Council has created an Eviction Diversion Program to help them mediate to a solution during COVID-19 hardships. It is to avoid court processes and eviction judgments.
- Eviction Diversion Program in Ingham County, MIThe court in Ingham County, Michigan has an Eviction Diversion Program to try to resolve eviction lawsuits and keep tenants housed.
- Pittsburgh’s Eviction Diversion through Mediation ProgramThe city of Pittsburgh is launching an Eviction Diversion through Mediation program. This program offers free mediation services for landlords and tenants prior to filing for an eviction. It provides the same services for cases that have been filed but have not yet been granted a judgment.
- Eviction Diversion Program in Jackson County, MIJackson County, Michigan has an Eviction Diversion Program that lets tenants opt into the program, have mediation, legal services, and emergency assistance if they qualify. The goal is to help deal with underlying issues in the landlord-tenant relationship, and the holistic set of problems the tenant is dealing with.
- Rent Court Mediation in MarylandBaltimore Rent Court offers an in-court Mediation program for landlord-tenant issues. They provide a free 3rd party neutral to help the parties come to a settlement and avoid going to trial.
- One-Stop Eviction Diversion Clinics at Housing Court & Neighborhood Centers in MinnesotaThe Housing Court Clinic offers a suite of legal, dispute resolution, and financial help to tenants, as well as streamlined court process to help prevent evictions. The clinic has expanded to a Pre-Eviction neighborhood Crisis Clinic, to get the same co-located, holistic resources to tenants at a preventative stage.
- Eviction Diversion Program in Durham, NCThis program provides individuals facing eviction with free advice and support, ranging from emergency financial aid to legal council, with the goal of helping citizens avoid eviction judgements and decreasing the number of eviction filings and verdicts in Durham County.
- Eviction Prevention in Syracuse, NYThe City of Syracuse Department of Neighborhood and Business Development invested in two eviction prevention programs focusing on early intervention services for tenants.
- Eviction Diversion Program in Richmond, VAThe Eviction Diversion program provides tenants who have received an unlawful detainer (and satisfy other eligibility criteria) with the opportunity (if their landlord agrees) to enter a voluntary conciliation procedure and to receive financial literacy education and financial assistance, as opposed to going through the court eviction process.
A full list of Eviction Diversion Programs
Where in the US are there working Eviction Diversion Programs?
Thank you to the Urban Institute for the national scan report of programs that are doing eviction diversion work across the US. Here is a list as of Summer 2021 of Eviction Diversion Programs.
◼ Eviction Defense Collaborative (San Francisco)
◼ Sacramento CARES Mediation Program (Sacramento)
◼ Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act (multiple cities)
◼ Eviction Legal Defense Pilot (Denver)
◼ COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (statewide)
◼ Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program (statewide)
◼ Joint Effort on Foreclosure and Eviction Prevention (statewide)
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
◼ Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia (District-wide)
◼ Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program (Pinellas County)
◼ COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Program (Orange County)
◼ STAE (Steps to Avoid Eviction) (Statewide)
◼ Chicago Eviction Diversion Program/Court-based Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)
◼ COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Project (Cook County)
◼ Eviction Mediation Program (Kane County)
◼ Landlord and Tenant Settlement Conference Program (statewide)
◼ Polk County eviction program (Polk County)
◼ Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund (statewide)
◼ Eviction Diversion Initiative (statewide)
◼ HomeStart (Boston)
◼ 67th District Court Eviction Diversion Program (Flint)
◼ Eviction Diversion Program (statewide)
◼ Kalamazoo County Eviction Diversion Program (Kalamazoo County)
◼ Jackson County Eviction Diversion Program (Jackson County)
◼ Ramsey County Housing Court Clinic (Ramsey County)
◼ Montana Eviction Intervention Project (statewide)
◼ Eviction Mediation Program (statewide)
◼ Landlord and Tenant Mediation Pilot Project (statewide, with mediation piloted in two courts)
◼ Universal Access to Counsel (New York City)
◼ Red Hook Community Justice Center (Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York City)
◼ Eviction Prevention Pilot Initiative (Monroe County)
◼ Durham Eviction Diversion Program (Durham)
◼ Human Relations Eviction Diversion Mediation (Forsyth County)
◼ Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio (Columbus/Franklin County)
◼ Restart CLE and Cuyahoga County (Cleveland/Cuyahoga County)
◼ Eviction Prevention and Intervention Coalition (Montgomery County)
◼ Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project/Eviction Diversion Program (Philadelphia)
◼ Safe Harbor Housing Program (statewide)
◼ Charleston County Housing Court (Charleston County)
◼ Alternative Dispute Resolution Plan (statewide)
◼ Texas Eviction Diversion Program (statewide)
◼ Rental Housing Stabilization Program/Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program (statewide)
◼ Housing Justice Program (Richmond)
◼ City of Richmond Eviction Diversion Program (Richmond)
◼ Virginia Eviction Reduction Pilot (statewide)
◼ Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, and Thurston Counties)
◼ Eviction Defense Project (Dane and Milwaukee Counties)