February 14, 2019
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Organizations mentioned/involved: Philadelphia Bar Association
For the last few years, activists, lawyers and legislators have begun to advocate for a more humane approach. In Philadelphia, the Bar Association estimated last November that the city would save $45.2 million per year by spending $3.5 million on legal aid for renters. Without lawyers, tenants who were behind on their rent were evicted 78 percent of the time. With lawyers, 95 percent of renters stayed housed. Every dollar spent on legal aid, a report commissioned by the lawyers’ association found, would save the city $12.74 in shelter costs, legal fees and lost productivity.
Similar efforts are being made in other cities. Minneapolis and New York are both experimenting with expanding their legal aid programs. In Seattle, the general counsels of 10 local companies (including Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft and the Seattle Mariners) signed a letter urging the governor and legislature to update Washington’s eviction laws to give tenants longer notice periods for evictions and rent increases.