Detroit considers moratorium on evictions, but not until thousands could lose their homes

A moratorium won’t happen until at least January because the council is going on its holiday break this week

click to enlarge Detroit is offering help to residents facing eviction. - Shutterstock.com
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Detroit is offering help to residents facing eviction.

Detroit City Council is mulling a moratorium on evictions as the winter nears, but it will have to wait until after Jan. 1.

Residents are calling on the council to take action after Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration missed the deadline to begin providing lower-income residents with free legal representation when facing eviction.

But a moratorium won’t happen until at least January because the council is going on its holiday break this week and won’t be back until after New Year’s Day.

By the time the council returns, more than 1,000 eviction cases are expected to go through the court system.

“We know it’s going to be a very cold winter,” Councilwoman Angela Whitfield-Calloway said at a council meeting Tuesday. “We certainly can take a stance.”

During the public comment period, supporters of a moratorium urged the council to impose a moratorium before the holiday break.

“Please stay all night and draft this ordinance,” one resident said. “Don’t wait. Do it now.”

It’s unclear why the council is waiting until after the break to impose a moratorium. The issue wasn’t on the council’s agenda and was raised by Whitfield-Calloway at the beginning of the meeting.

Council Pro Tem James Tate said any future moratorium should only apply to slumlords.

“We also have to look at it from the standpoint of landlords who are doing it the right way,” Tate said. “We should look into the conditions.”

City Council staff is expected to draft the moratorium proposal during the break.

More than 1,500 eviction cases have been filed a month over the past several months.

The Detroit City Council approved the right-to-counsel ordinance on May 10, and it was supposed to go into effect on Oct. 1. But Duggan’s administration delayed the process, saying it needed more time to work with potential vendors who want to represent low-income tenants.

Without legal representation, housing advocates say city ordinances that protect renters from slumlords are useless because many tenants can’t afford legal representation.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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