Philly Council Committee votes to extend evictions diversion
Making an agreement outside of a courtroom
In its current form, the program requires most landlords to sit down with their tenant and a volunteer mediator before filing an eviction application. The aim is to resolve disputes relating to rent arrears without legal recourse, which may negatively impact a tenant for years even if a judge rules in their favor.
In some cases this has been accomplished with emergency rental assistance dollars from the federal government. Other cases were resolved after a landlord agreed to extend a deadline or be paid in installments.
The program, which works in partnership with the courts and a group of nonprofit organizations, is credited with helping reduce deportation requests by 75% between 2019 and 2020. The majority of these cases involved black women .
“When landlords and tenants are empowered to solve their problems together, the result is not only a win-win, but a win-win,” said Sue Wasserkrug, administrator of the Good Shepherd mediation program on Wednesday.
“It’s a victory for the tenant, who does not lose his home. This is a victory for the owner, who does not bear the cost of turnover. And this is a victory for the community, reducing evictions and homelessness and all the problems associated with it.
To date, the program has worked with over 2,300 landlord-tenant pairs and has helped the overwhelming majority – over 90% – reach a resolution through mediation that does not involve no eviction proceedings, said Daniel Hyman, a staff lawyer. with SeniorLAW Center, one of the program partners.
Another 7,000 tenants were able to stay in their homes without a mediation session, he said.