More than a year after an epidemic moratorium on evictions ended in Detroit, the city is on track to return to pre-epidemic numbers of evictions. That’s according to a new report from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions group.
The report found that based on the city’s current rate, more than 20% of tenants — 61,000 people — will be evicted this year.
University of Michigan researchers analyzed data from nearly 68,000 eviction case records filed in Detroit’s 36th District Court between January 2019 and June 2022 to find trends in emissions during the pandemic and forecast for the rest of 2022.
“In Detroit and cities like it, the COVID-19 response has undermined the status quo of unfair and unsustainable mass immigration,” said Alexa Eisenberg, a postdoctoral research fellow at U of M’s Poverty Solutions project, said in a press release on Monday. “Policy changes at the beginning of the pandemic showed that they were preventable but not inevitable in a system that prioritized the investment needs of landlords over the health of tenants and human right to asylum.”
Eisenberg and Katlin Brantley, a graduate student research assistant at Poverty Solutions, co-authored a new policy statement based on data from the Eviction Machine, a management, advocacy and research tool developed by the Urban Praxis Workshop with the support of Poverty Solutions and Data Driven Detroit, according to their press release.
The study found that court hearings increased tenants’ access to legal counsel during the pandemic. One in five tenants had full legal rights, although four times as many tenants had a lawyer, according to the report.
“Fully funding and implementing the city of Detroit’s Right to Counsel ordinance will help address this disparity,” the press release said.
Detroit passed a Right to Counsel Act in October. No one has been hired on his start date, but officials in Mayor Mike Duggan’s office said they expect to have word by the end of the week. The city must hire employees for the Department of Conservation as required by law.
Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield discussed the delay at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“We have done our part. We have passed the procedure. We have allocated funds. We have also reached the administration for other funds as well,” said Sheffield. “We’re doing our best to fix it and control it, but it’s a process that’s not at the end of the council. It’s the control now, it’s their responsibility to implement real laws.”
Many residents and members of Detroit’s Right to Counsel Coalition have spoken at city council meetings in support of more funding for law enforcement and getting started immediately. The budget is $6 million in the law, but advocates say more money is needed to meet the city’s needs.
Eisenberg and tenant activists calling Detroit’s eviction a “public health problem” are holding a virtual forum and Q&A at noon on Nov. 17.