Legal Aid Society Announces $3.4M Savings for Davidson Residents Through Eviction Assistance Program

Categories: Featured, News, Non-Profit, Success Stories

Summary

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has reported that its Eviction Right to Counsel pilot program saved Davidson County residents over $3.4 million in its first year, according to an independent study by Stout. The program, a collaboration between Legal Aid Society, Conexión Américas, and other local organizations, provides legal aid, outreach, and education to qualifying low-income renters, addressing eviction comprehensively and making a tangible impact on residents' lives.

eviction
DarKenya W. Waller, Legal Aid Society Executive Director

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest nonprofit law firm, announced today that according to a newly released independent study, its Eviction Right to Counsel pilot program saved Davidson County residents more than $3.4 million over its first year.

Eviction Right to Counsel is a 2-year pilot program aimed at providing outreach, education and legal aid to qualifying low-income renters. The program is a partnership between Legal Aid Society and Conexión Américas, with additional assistance provided by the Nashville Hispanic Bar Association; the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center; the People’s Alliance for Transportation, Housing and Employment; and the American Muslim Advisory Council. It’s the first program of its kind in Middle Tennessee to take a comprehensive approach to eviction, providing legal counsel for tenants while educating both tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities.

The $3.4 million figure comes from a new, independent evaluation of the program created by advisory and consulting firm Stout, which was presented to Metro Council in early November. The report, available for download from Legal Aid Society’s website at https://las.org/ertc/ertcevaluation2023/, also documented that:

1,010 Eviction Right to Counsel clients were assisted by Legal Aid Society and the Nashville Hispanic Bar Association as of June 30, 2023, with some cases still ongoing.

  • Among cases with a recorded financial impact, the average impact was $10,900 per client assisted.
  • Approximately 47% of Eviction Right to Counsel clients indicated there was a child in the household.
  • Approximately 54% of Eviction Right to Counsel clients indicated they were living in public or subsidized housing.
  • Approximately 51% of Eviction Right to Counsel clients received extended service.
  • Legal Aid Society and the Hispanic Bar Association estimate reaching approximately 200 tenants per week by staffing a housing help desk at the courthouse at least twice per week.

Metro Council approved the $3 million Eviction Right to Counsel program in June 2022, of which $2.3 million went to Legal Aid Society, with funding coming from the American Rescue Plan. The program launched on a small scale in July 2022 and was fully staffed as of November 2022.

“We’re beyond pleased to report these results from the first year of the Eviction Right to Counsel pilot program, which confirm what we already know — that this shared effort by Legal Aid Society, Conexión Américas, the Nashville Hispanic Bar Association and many other local organizations is making a tangible difference in the lives of Davidson County residents,” said DarKenya W. Waller, executive director of Legal Aid Society.

“We’ve already surpassed Metro Council’s original $3 million investment in this program in terms of savings of residents, and in the next year, we’re on track to more than double it. This is one tool in the affordable housing toolbox, and we hope to keep building.”

“We at Conexión Américas are immensely proud of the ongoing success of the Eviction Right to Counsel program,” said Martha Silva, co-executive director of Conexión Américas. “However, we continue to see a high number of unjust evictions affecting families in Davidson County, particularly in communities with a significant immigrant population. In partnership with Legal Aid Society, we hope to continue empowering families to remain in their homes, equipping them with knowledge about their rights and responsibilities, while ensuring landlords understand and adhere to laws safeguarding tenants.”

“In the face of increased financial pressures caused by higher living costs and stagnant incomes, homelessness remains a looming possibility for Nashville residents,” said Councilwoman Zulfat Suara. “The findings from this first year clearly demonstrate the value of the Eviction Right to Counsel program in bringing much-needed stability for low-income Davidson County families. My heartfelt gratitude goes to my colleagues on Metro Council for their ongoing support of this program, and I also thank Legal Aid Society and Conexión Américas for their unflagging commitment to the success of Eviction Right to Counsel over the past year.”

All low-income Davidson County residents are eligible for the program’s services, including immigrant communities. Anyone facing eviction who meets eligibility requirements will be provided legal assistance as resources permit.

To learn more about the Eviction Right to Counsel program or get assistance for an eviction-related matter, visit las.org/ertc or call 1-800-238-1443.

 

Published by The Tennessee Tribune December 18,2023.