CDAD advocates to keep Detroiters in their homes by fighting eviction, tax and mortgage foreclosures, and displacement. The right to counsel for low-income tenants, eviction diversion programs, effective community outreach, and the equitable enforcement of state and local rental laws play major roles in preventing evictions and enhancing housing stability. These are structural solutions to long-standing structural housing justice issues which resulted in an average of 30,000 evictions per year over the past decade. With the end of eviction moratoriums, rental assistance and rising housing costs, evictions in Detroit continue to rise. Right to counsel is a cost-effective solution to Detroit’s eviction crisis according to a 2022 report.
As a partner in the Detroit Right to Counsel Coalition, CDAD worked with legal services organizations, housing services providers, community organizers, landlords, tenants and City Council members to pass Detroit’s Right to Counsel Ordinance in May 2022. It was the first in Michigan and the 18th jurisdiction nationally. The Coalition and supporters continue to push for full legal representation for eligible tenants as well as full funding and full implementation of the RTC Ordinance, which went into effect on October 1, 2022.
The Right to Counsel Ordinance mandates the formation of an Office of Eviction Defense, so there will be a permanent place and purpose in City government dedicated to this issue. The ordinance requires extensive data gathering and an annual public report and meeting that is easily accessible to all Detroit residents without language or disability barriers. Program reporting and evaluation must be inclusive and transparent. Further, the ordinance mandates that the Office’s annual budget be prepared based on court and other data to ensure Detroiters’ needs are being met.