FY 2021 Eviction Protection Grant Program

The overall purpose of the Eviction Protection Grant Program is to support experienced legal service providers, not limited to legal service corporations, in providing legal assistance at no cost to low-income tenants at risk of or subject to eviction. HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research is making available grant funds to non-profit or governmental entities to provide services in areas with high rates of evictions or prospective evictions, including rural areas. This grant program plays an integral role in helping individuals and families, including people of color who are disproportionately represented among those evicted, people with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities, avoid eviction or minimize the disruption and damage caused by the eviction process.

Background

Eviction has long created housing instability for renter households, particularly for Black and Hispanic women and families with children.  In 2016, according to the Eviction Lab, there were more than 2.3 million eviction filings and almost 900,000 court-ordered evictions (https://evictionlab.org/national-estimates/). In addition to those evicted through a legal judgment, researchers estimate a larger number of renter households are evicted informally, outside the court system. The risk of eviction is not limited to large cities. For example, an analysis of evictions found that in 2016, evictions occurred among 1 in 9 renter households in Richmond, VA, 1 in 13 in Tulsa, OK, and 1 in 21 in Albuquerque, NM. Small cities and rural areas had similar rates: 1 in 9 renter households experienced eviction in Muskegon, MI, 1 in 13 in Wilmington, DE, 1 in 8 in Houlton, WI, and 1 in 9 in Centreville, IL (with a population of 5,000) (Statement before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services).

Landlords do not pursue evictions equally across households. While the national eviction filing rate was 1 in 20; for Black renters, it was 1 in 11. People of color, women, and families with children are more likely to be evicted. A study found that almost 15 percent of American children born in large cities between 1998 and 2000 had experienced an eviction by age 15. The percentage was approximately 29 percent for children living in deep poverty. (Lundberg and Donnelly. 2019. A Research Note on the Prevalence of Housing Eviction Among Children Born in U.S. CitiesDemography56(1), 391–404). Among tenants at risk of eviction, Hispanic tenants in predominantly white neighborhoods were roughly twice as likely to be evicted as those in predominantly non-white neighborhoods. Hispanic tenants were also more likely to get evicted when they had a non-Hispanic landlord. (Greenberg, Gershenson, and Desmond. 2016. Discrimination in Evictions, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 51, 115 – 158).

The risk of eviction has likely worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. HUD’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey for Week 31 (May 26 – June 7, 2021) found 7.11 million renter households were behind on their rent. It also found 1.19 million households reported eviction was “very likely” in the next two months, with an additional 2.04 million households reporting eviction was “somewhat likely.” By comparison, the 2017 American Housing Survey found 2.77 million renter households were behind on their rent and approximately 308,000 renter households thought it was “very likely” they would be evicted in the next two months. Approximately 2.98 million thought eviction was “somewhat likely.” Both surveys have wide confidence intervals associated with weighted estimates, but a simple comparison suggests missed rent payments and risk of eviction has worsened during the pandemic. These trends also suggest a potential for a rise in evictions as local and national moratoria expire.   

The high rates of evictions have significant long-term consequences, particularly among children. Eviction has been linked to homelessness, substandard housing conditions, job instability, school instability, and depression. An eviction record can negatively affect credit and future housing options. (Desmond, Matthew. Unaffordable America: Poverty, housing, and eviction. Fast Focus, 22-2015. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty, 4). The national, state, and local moratoria in place during the pandemic provided critical protections for housing-insecure tenants across the country. However, as moratoria expire and unpaid rental obligations become due, millions of individuals and families face the risk of eviction and the myriad negative outcomes that accompany informal and formal eviction actions.

While states may have different processes, the eviction process typically begins with the landlord notifying the tenant of the intent to evict. The landlord may then file an eviction notice, which results in renters receiving a notice to appear in civil court. Without legal representation, most renters do not appear in court, which results in a default eviction judgment. Renters who receive an eviction judgment must leave their home by the specified date or the landlord may file to have law enforcement officers forcibly remove them and their belongings. Alternatively, the landlord and tenant may enter into a mediated agreement.

A formal notice of eviction is only one mechanism by which individuals and families experience involuntary displacement. Landlords may undertake informal evictions (some of which are unlawful), such as changing the locks, telling the tenants to leave, withholding maintenance services, and shutting off utilities. These actions frequently result in tenants moving to avoid further conflict and having a formal eviction on their record, which can inhibit them from finding a new home. The Milwaukee Area Renters Study examined formal evictions, informal evictions, landlord foreclosures, and building condemnations, all different forms of “involuntary displacement” between 2009 and 2011. The study found 1 in 8 renters (13 percent) were involuntarily displaced from housing in the two years prior to the survey. Forty-eight percent were informal evictions and 24 percent were formal evictions.

One of the leading interventions to prevent evictions is providing legal assistance to at-risk tenants. Research shows that legal representation helps tenants remain housed while also delivering financial savings to the jurisdictions. For example, a study in Baltimore found that an annual investment of $5.7 million in a right to counsel program in Baltimore would yield $35.6 million in benefits or costs avoided to the city and state. (Stout Risius Ross, LLC. May 8, 2020. The Economic Impact of an Eviction Right to Counsel in Baltimore City).

A right to counsel in eviction proceedings has consistently been found to significantly reduce evictions (Eviction Right to Counsel Resource Center). A study in Minnesota found fully represented tenants win or settle their cases 96 percent of the time and clients receiving limited representation win or settle their cases 83 percent of the time. These figures compare with just 62 percent of tenants without any representation. Tenants with full representation were twice as likely to stay in their homes or got twice as much time to move, left court without an eviction record, and were four times less likely to use homeless shelters (Grundman & Kruger, 2018, Legal Representation in Evictions - Comparative Study). An analysis of California’s Shriver Housing Pilot Projects found clients with full representation were significantly less likely to end their cases by default (8 percent) than were self-represented defendants (26 percent) and on average had more days to move, were ordered less often to pay holdover damages, landlord attorney fees, and other costs (NPC Research, 2017).

Research has shown a range of services, such as alternative dispute resolution, court navigation, and legal records management, can help renters avoid eviction and remain stably housed (Benfer, Green, and Hagan. July 2020. Approaches to Eviction Prevention, working paper). A dispute resolution pilot program in Baltimore found 81 percent of the landlords and tenants who choose to participate reached a settlement. Michigan recently expanded its Eviction Diversion Program, which offers tenants an alternative to housing court, from a pilot to a statewide program. Equal Justice Works fellowships bring these resources to rural communities in the state. New York City implemented a pilot program in which navigators guided tenants through the court process, resulting in none of the tenants experiencing a forcible eviction. (Sandefur & Clark. 2016. Roles Beyond Lawyers Summary, Recommendations and Research Report of an Evaluation of the New York City Court Navigators Program and its Three Pilot Projects, American Bar Foundation). Sealing records, so that landlords do not use a tenant’s prior rental history in evaluating rental applications, can reduce the effects of an eviction on future housing.

Tenants can also reduce their risk of eviction by learning about their rights and available services, making education and outreach critical components for positive outcomes. For example, Philadelphia’s Eviction Prevention Project, provides tenant rights workshops, a tenant hotline for legal service referrals, and court help services in addition to legal representation.

Legal assistance paired with resources offered through other service providers may further expand resolution options for clients at risk of eviction. Other resources include providing apartment search assistance for tenants who are being displaced and assisting recently evicted tenants in navigating the transition process, such as requests to transfer children’s schools or retain their home school, employment applications, and healthcare related needs. A study in Vermont found that giving a household rental assistance of $2,000 (i.e., the median amount of rent due for eviction cases caused by unpaid rent) prevented 42 percent of evictions. (Peter Beck, January 2019. Eviction in Vermont: A Closer Look, Vermont Legal Aid). Similarly, the Milwaukee study found that access to emergency housing aid reduced the eviction rate by 15 percent. A New York Times analysis found evicted families often had money judgments of less than $600, indicating that a small amount of financial assistance could prevent the significant disruptions caused by eviction.

Currently, insufficient resources prevent every tenant at risk of or subject to eviction from receiving legal representation. The Eviction Protection Grant Program supports the full range of services that work with legal representation to help individuals and families avoid eviction or minimize the disruption and damage caused by the eviction process.

Funding of approximately $ 20,000,000 is available through this NOFO. 

HUD expects to make approximately _______ awards from the funds available under this NOFA. 

Preference Points: This NOFO offers 2 points for HBCU.

Program Office: Office of Policy Development and Research

Funding Opportunity Title: Eviction Protection Grant Program NOFO

Assistance Listing  Number: 14. 537

FAIN (FR) Number:  6500-N-79

OMB Approval Numbers: 2528-0299

Estimated Opening Date: July 20, 2021

Estimated Deadline Date: 

Frequently Asked Questions:  (will be submitted at later date)

Agency Contact:  Questions regarding specific program requirements for this NOFO should be directed to Madlyn.WohlmanRodriguez@hud.gov. Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. Please note that HUD staff cannot assist applicants in preparing their applications.

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