Our Special Topics resources provide a consolidated look into particular substantive areas through the lens of court ADR. This particular collection examines various eviction diversion efforts throughout the United States, and offers guidance and examples of materials other programs have employed. Unique among our other Special Topics, this resource was developed as a real-time response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the catalyst for a surge of evictions nationwide, and the guidance it contains is centered around that perspective (though many lessons from it are generalizable to a context outside of the pandemic).
RSI is grateful to the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation, whose generous support enabled us to develop this resource.
Beginning in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the various public health measures to control its spread, including lockdowns, have had significant financial and social impact on the American population. Many experienced layoffs or reductions in hours due to decreased economic demand. Others suffered hardship from contracting the virus themselves, or due to someone close to them contracting it. For many of these individuals, missed rent payments began accruing in early 2020, and continued well into 2021. In 2022, the presence of inflation and ongoing employment and underemployment mean that housing insecurity is still running rampant.
Anticipating that the economic fallout could lead to a staggering influx of eviction filings, the federal government took action both in the form of an eviction moratorium and by passing a series of economic relief packages that included large sums for rental assistance. That rental assistance was then allotted to the states, many of which also enacted their own moratoria to fill gaps in the federal moratorium.
After the moratoria are lifted, courts faced significant volumes of cases as landlords have been sitting on filings for months. These eviction filings carried the added stakes of threatening to expand homelessness in the midst of a pandemic. With the prospect of a full-blown crisis on their hands, courts increasingly turned to ADR. We therefore set out to develop this resource as guidance for courts who are implementing or are considering implementing these diversion programs.
RSI has been working on eviction mediation almost since the pandemic began. We have drawn on our extensive experience with foreclosure mediation, our research and evaluation expertise, and our understanding of online dispute resolution. Here are some of RSI’s eviction mediation activities:
- Develop this national special topic to collect reliable information about eviction mediation
- Disseminate information about eviction mediation nationally using multiple platforms
- Develop and operate an eviction mediation program in Kane County, Illinois
- Conduct outreach to 13 judicial circuits in Illinois to identify those that were interested in eviction mediation and offer assistance as needed
- Design and operate virtual eviction mediation programs serving additional counties
RSI is grateful to the American Arbitration Association - International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, and our many individual contributors for their generous support of RSI’s eviction mediation activities.