Disrupting the Eviction Crisis with Conflict Resolution Strategies
41 Mitchell Hamline Journal of Public Policy & Practice 125 (2020)
41 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2020 Last revised: 1 Jun 2020
Date Written: April 24, 2020
Our nation faces a serious eviction epidemic. More than 2.3 million eviction actions are filed every year. That’s about four per minute. The eviction crisis is a multi-faceted problem that will require a systemic, interdisciplinary approach. This urgent problem is not new. Many decades ago, scholars and tenant advocates sounded an alarm about the growing eviction problem. Fast-forward to 2020, and the eviction epidemic persists, as do the scathing criticisms of the legal process as an expedited “housed-to-homeless pipeline.”
While some states have increased legal protections for tenants, the ongoing eviction crisis should teach us that traditional legal approaches alone are not likely to make a meaningful difference. Some states have experimented with proactive eviction prevention programs that combine mediation and problem-solving processes with legal advice and other types of rental assistance. These programs connect tenants with available resources before they fall behind on their rent, and facilitate ongoing communication and conflict resolution between renters and property owners. In addition to pre-filing interventions, some courts offer mediation programs to help parties negotiate agreements to prevent eviction and address housing issues.
This article explores the potential benefits and challenges of using dispute resolution strategies to assuage and even disrupt the eviction crisis. Although not a panacea, early conflict resolution interventions and mediation services may be valuable components of a multi-faceted eviction prevention strategy, especially when offered early — long before an eviction filing — and integrated with legal advice and other supportive services.
Keywords: eviction, conflict resolution, ADR, housing crisis, landlord-tenant, court ADR, mediation
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