Miami-Dade County Commission provides $2.9 million for eviction diversion pilot
The Miami-Dade County Commission released $2.9 million for an Eviction Diversion Pilot Program designed to support free legal assistance for transformational eviction diversion services.
The core goal of the pilot program is to assist hundreds of at-risk tenants and their families, and to assess the impact of legal representation on the housing stability of the residents served.
The funds are being directed to Legal Services of Greater Miami (Legal Services), who will work with five community-based non-profits to provide advocacy, outreach, and awareness on tenants’ rights. The cohort of subgrant awardees include Cuban American Bar Association Pro Bono Legal Services, Community Justice Project, Miami Workers Center, Haitian Lawyers Association, and the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr., Bar Association.
The funds will primarily be used to provide free legal assistance to households at-risk or subject to eviction and to create a comprehensive referral and intake process system to render legal assistance across numerous legal services providers. In a push to assist residents gain knowledge about their rights, the funding allows for valuable services directly to the community; Miami Workers Center will be conducting door-to-door canvassing to households facing eviction, as well as trainings on tenants’ rights and programs. It will also enable the nonprofits to share data on how evictions impact housing stability, and identify service gaps with the county to help improve plans and processes.
“Miami’s housing crisis called for greater public investment, and this large funding will give Legal Services a unique opportunity to work in partnership with community-based nonprofits to do our part to help solve it,” said Legal Services Executive Director Monica Vigues-Pitan. “This grant will enable us to quickly scale up our team and further expand our housing advocacy, which already makes up 56% of our work. We are excited for this transformational expansion of our services that will impact hundreds more in our community through the protection of tenants’ rights.”
The program reflects the latest effort by the county to combat the affordability crisis and complements its other existing programs designed to address housing stability and keep residents in their homes, according to Legal Services. It’s anticipated the program will provide direct legal assistance to more than 850 low-income county residents at or below 80% Area Median Income ($78,000 for a family of four), which would double the number of tenants receiving legal representation in local eviction proceedings.