Free eviction defense is getting closer to becoming a reality in Detroit

After missing a deadline to begin providing the services, Mayor Duggan’s administration announced some major developments

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click to enlarge Detroit is offering help to residents facing eviction. - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
Detroit is offering help to residents facing eviction.

The city of Detroit’s plan to provide lower-income residents with free legal representation when facing evictions took a major step forward on Wednesday.

After missing a deadline to begin providing the services by Oct. 1, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration announced the hiring of April Faith-Slaker to lead the Office of Eviction Defense and Dylon Adrine to serve as the program manager.

The Office of Eviction Defense is integral to the right-to-counsel ordinance approved by Detroit City Council on May 10. The office will lead the effort to provide legal defense to Detroiters facing eviction.

The city also finalized a contract with the United Community Housing Coalition to help provide legal defense, with the help of subcontractors.

Faith-Slaker is no stranger to fighting for justice in the legal system. Most recently, she served as the associate director of the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School, where she worked on studies addressing equal access to justice in civil and criminal cases. She is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Justice Index at the National Center for Access to Justice.

Faith-Slaker received a bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago and juris doctorate from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She also has a master of arts degree in human development and social policy from Northwestern University.

Adrine will work with the United Community Housing Coalition to ensure residents are getting effective counsel. He previously served as a process improvement consultant on Duggan’s Lean Six Sigma team, which worked to improve efficiency across several city departments.

Ardine received a bachelor of science degree in health service administration and a master of business administration degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.

“We are building a very strong team dedicated to making sure Detroiters facing eviction have legal representation and Detroiters are fortunate to have April and Dylon leading this effort,” Detroit Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett, who selected Adrine and Faith-Slaker, said in a statement Wednesday. “They fully appreciate the urgency of this issue and once the contract with UCHC is approved in early January, their work will begin in earnest.”

An average of 30,000 eviction cases a year go through the 36th District Court in Detroit.

A University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions study found that tenants are nearly 90% more likely to win their cases when they have an attorney.

Once it’s up and running, the Office of Eviction Defense will provide legal help to anyone receiving up to twice the federal poverty level.

The city will fund the initiative with $6 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Gilbert Family Foundation pledged another $12 million over three years to provide eviction legal defense for 6,000 low-income Detroit families with children.

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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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