November, 2018

Columbus Tenant Advocacy Pilot Shows Strong Results

It’s probably no surprise having a lawyer with you in a court room is better than going it alone. But Jyoshu Tsushima, who heads up Columbus Legal Aid’s Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP), says they’re trying to put a number on how their legal advice has improved outcomes for people in eviction court.

“In the cases where attorneys weren’t present, it was about a 50 percent chance that the tenants would end up being evicted from the property,” he said. “And then the cases where we were actually directly representing the tenants, only 1 percent of those tenants would actually got evicted.”

Tsushima says going in, he expected only a handful of tenants would have claims that could help them avoid an eviction — instead, almost half had some defense available. The key, Tsushima says, is they needed an attorney to help them navigate the system and prepare their evidence.

TAP lawyers made significant increases in “agreed entries,” agreements between tenants and landlords to avoid eviction by giving more time for move out or establishing a payment schedule to get back on track. But with just one full time staffer and volunteers, he says TAP has only been able to consult on about 5 percent of Franklin County’s evictions.

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Tenant Advocacy Project helps Franklin County residents stay in their homes, according to new study

Franklin County processes about 18,000 evictions a year and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus created the Tenant Advocacy Project in March 2017.

Franklin County residents facing eviction stand a much better chance of remaining in their homes if they get professional help, according to a study released Monday by the Legal Aid Society of Columbus.

The study found that tenants who received help from the Tenant Advocacy Project were able to stay in their home 240 percent more often than those who were not helped by the organization. About 1 percent of tenants represented by TAP lost their case compared with 53 percent of those who received no assistance, according to the study.

“Without access to an attorney, most tenants facing eviction cannot effectively raise arguments that could preserve their tenancies or prevent eviction and homelessness,” Melissa Benson, housing attorney at Legal Aid Society of Columbus, said in a news release. “The Tenant Advocacy Project gives tenants a voice in the courthouse. It is balancing the scales in eviction cases in Franklin County.”

The Legal Aid Society of Columbus created the Tenant Advocacy Project in March 2017. TAP runs a daily clinic in Franklin County Municipal Court that provides legal help for tenants facing eviction. TAP also receives support from The Columbus Foundation, the Ohio State Bar Foundation and PNC Bank. The goals of TAP are to lower displacement caused by eviction and increase access to affordable housing for low-income tenants.

Read the rest of the article at the Columbus Dispatch


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