A new program designed to help families on the brink of eviction stay in their homes has seen tremendous success.

Two years ago in response to high rates of eviction both locally and nationally, a collaboration between community organizations, legal services, and the 53rd District Court led to the formation of the Livingston County Housing Stability Taskforce. The taskforce then created the Eviction Diversion Program, or EDP, to help homeowners and tenants-in-need. The EDP is designed to help low-income defendants that don’t have access to a lawyer. Participants in the program are matched up for no cost with a lawyer who can advise them and negotiate with landlords. Families will also be connected with social service agencies that can hook them up with financial and other helpful resources.

With one full year under its belt, the program is showing that it gets results. According to data from Princeton researcher Matthew Desmond, who leads a project called Eviction Lab, Livingston County’s eviction rate stood at 10.5% from 2008 through 2012. During that period, approximately 1,000 families were evicted each year. Eviction Lab data from 2016, the year the EDP began and the most recent year that data is available for, reveals the county eviction rate has dropped under 1%. While parties contributing to the program are being careful about declaring it a total victory after just one year, they are encouraged by the foundation it’s laid to help break cycles of poverty and the negative effects of homelessness like adults losing jobs and children’s education being interrupted. (MK)