Evictions, both informal and court-ordered, are one of the most common pathways to homelessness, but proven interventions to interrupt this pathway are few. Two of three rigorous studies completed in this area show that providing a lawyer to a defendant in formal court eviction proceedings results in fewer court ordered evictions. But there are no corresponding studies regarding whether legal advice provided before the landlord files a formal eviction will result in favorable resolutions for tenants, including improved housing conditions and fewer formal and informal evictions. Is early, low-cost legal assistance an effective, and cost-effective, intervention to prevent evictions that may lead to homelessness? This study hypothesizes that such is the case and will provide rigorous evidence in partnership with Legal Services of Greater Miami. With an anticipated study size of 616 people and a treatment including brief legal advice for individuals threatened with informal eviction by landlords refusing to make repairs, we will learn whether so-called “eviction diversion” is a useful tool to divert individuals and families away from a court eviction, to combat homelessness, and to keep people housed longer.
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