The study explores the program design, successes, and challenges of a housing court eviction program in St. Paul, MN. Launched in 2018, the program set out with the goal to reduce evictions by 50% in five years. To reach this goal, the court implemented a number of procedural changes, improved coordination among government entities, and expanded access to mediation and legal studies.
The study outlines six lessons other courts can learn from this housing program including that:
- a collaborative attitude between partners is critical to success
- small changes, such as a new check box on a settlement form, can provide big dividends
- state law matters and can have its own impact regardless of changes made at the court level
- financial service providers are better situated to solving emergencies than individuals left on their own to navigate social services
- different circumstances require different interventions – some litigants will need legal assistance, some mediation and some financial assistance, thus each partner is necessary for the success of the program
- as settlements increased, so did settlement failures (e.g., tenants failing to pay arrearages as agreed to in the settlement) - along with a higher rate of settlement agreements was a greater number of affidavits of non-compliance