Every week, hundreds of eviction cases make their way through Jefferson District Court, where struggling renters are often ordered to move out while some landlords never receive the money they’re owed.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
A new program from Louisville Metro Government is aiming to resolve rental issues before they ever make it to a docket – allowing property owners to save money on court costs while keeping evictions off tenants’ records.
The eviction mediation program, which quietly launched at the beginning of April, is being funded with $2 million from the city’s American Rescue Plan allocation and is similar to programs already showing success in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It’s expected to run as a pilot through at least June 2024, said Marilyn Harris, director of Develop Louisville.
A mediation program also recently started in Lexington, where city officials committed $1.9 million in federal funding to services provided by Legal Aid of the Bluegrass and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center.
“It’s been well documented that every eviction on your record reduces your quality of housing,” even if a judge dismisses it, said Harris, who initially proposed starting an eviction mediation program in early 2020, just before the pandemic. “What we want to do is encourage landlords to come through mediation, not have to pay to file an eviction, not have to pay to hire an attorney. … And hopefully (both parties) get made whole through the mediation.”
Louisville is contracting with local company resolve: Restorative Practices to implement its program, which is free to both landlords and tenants. For the pilot, mediation services will be offered only in cases involving past due payments, and rental assistance will be available to tenants who have not already reached their 18-month limit through the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Harris said.
Here’s how the program works:
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