Chief justice praises eviction diversion plan

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice on Thursday commented on Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing a supplemental budget including $60 million in funding for rental assistance and an eviction diversion program. Through Administrative Order No. 2020-17, the Supreme Court set the stage for the initiative with specific direction to trial courts as they approach processing an estimated potential backlog of 75,000 eviction cases.

“While the pandemic was not the disruption we wanted, it may be the disruption we needed to transform the landlord/tenant docket into a resource that serves the community,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack. “By funding a statewide eviction diversion program, we have the opportunity to build on the success of local court programs that have kept people in their homes and supported stronger neighborhoods. Judges across Michigan are ready to take advantage of this win-win plan that helps families to stop worrying about losing their housing and helps landlords get paid so they can stay in business.”

The groundbreaking Supreme Court order requires courts to set a specific time for each hearing in order to safeguard public health, and each defendant must be advised regarding their right to counsel and the availability of rental assistance. As long as the defendant appears for that initial hearing, the case will be adjourned for a week to allow them to secure counsel and access assistance. The funding approved Thursday includes $4 million for legal assistance.

One of the nation’s leading online legal resource programs, Michigan Legal Help (https://michiganlegalhelp.org) provides extensive information and assistance to families at risk of eviction. During the pandemic, Michigan Legal Help has been visited 10,000 times each day.

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