Welcome To Rent Court, Where Tenants Can Face A Tenuous Fate


Today, more than 11 million families spend over half of their incomes on rent, and for the poor, it can be as much as 80 percent.
News Story (District of Columbia)

Pam Fessler
National Public Radio (NPR)
March 28, 2016
READ THE FULL STORY HERE

Tags: Housing: Eviction, Housing: Landlord-Tenant, Rent Court

Organizations mentioned/involved: Bread for the City (DC)


DETAILS

In some places, it’s called rent court or housing court. Others, eviction court. In Washington, D.C., it’s known as the Landlord and Tenant Branch. This is where landlords in the city sue tenants, usually because they failed to pay the rent.

Each weekday morning, dozens of people can be seen filing into the three-story courthouse where their cases will be heard. And maybe their fates decided. Everyone passes through a metal detector. Women with small children. Elderly tenants with walkers and canes. Several of those who gather in the hallway wear work uniforms. They’re nurse’s aides, security guards, grocery store clerks.

The tenants are among the city’s poorest residents. And while this city’s population is less than half African-American, according to U.S. Census data from 2014, almost every single tenant here — day after day after day — is black. The white people are usually attorneys.