LAWM EVICTION DIVERSION PROGRAM
Every year roughly 6,500 families in the Kalamazoo community face the very real prospect of becoming homeless due to job loss, illness or other economic hardship. An eviction disrupts the family and community on many levels ranging from a child’s school attendance, a parent’s job performance and reduction in property values. A record of an eviction adds one more barrier to securing safe and affordable housing.
Acknowledging the devastating impact an eviction can have on a family and a community, and realizing that the best way to deal with homelessness is to prevent it, Legal Aid of Western Michigan has been committed to having an attorney at the thrice-weekly eviction docket in Kalamazoo the last 13 years.
Recognizing that an eviction often calls for a financial solution instead of a litigated one, Rick Kupferschmidt of the Kalamazoo office led an effort to organize a consortium of community partners to develop the “first in the nation” Eviction Diversion program. This program integrates community financial and legal resources to prevent evictions and homelessness.
Legal Aid Lawyers are there to defend illegal evictions and enforce tenant’s legal rights. Since its inception in 2010, this program has expanded to Lansing, Pontiac, Warren and most recently Durham, North Carolina. Last year this Eviction Diversion Program prevented eviction of 412 Households and paid out through HRI and DHHS over $138,000 in financial assistance.