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Johnson County eviction mediation program sees success

Johnson County eviction mediation program sees success

Olathe, Kan. (KCTV) – As a nationwide affordable housing crisis continues, Johnson County has a new program in place that’s already shown success in addressing it. The county’s eviction mediation program presents tenants with an option to settle their case through an agreement.

The pilot program was launched in September.

“Serving evictions is one of the highest instances of law enforcement having something bad happen. We all think domestic violence, what we don’t think about is evictions.”

District magistrate judge John McEntee is referring to last month’s fatal shooting in Independence which led to the deaths of IPD officer Cody Allen and court processor Drexel Mack.

“We saw that tragic event in Jackson County and that is when an eviction was being served whereby both a county employee and an Independence police officer lost their lives,” said McEntee.

The way the program works is if a tenant has an eviction filed against them, they’re given the option to deny these claims and work with a mediator to decide on an agreement, which is usually a payment arrangement. He says it’s not only saving tenants’ homes, but also potentially saving lives.

“Whenever I have the opportunity to not put law enforcement in a scenario where they’re having to guess and anticipate, we don’t know who’s on the other side of that door, that helps everyone.”

Unexpected job loss, medical expenses, and life circumstances are some of the most common reasons people in Johnson County are getting evicted.

“It’s not people that are habitual abusers of the system. Most people that go through the program successfully complete their end of the bargain and the case against them gets dismissed,” he said.

Since the program’s launch this past fall, 150 eviction cases have been filed. There were 70 percent of people who participated in the program who had their case dismissed.

“This is an opportunity for the tenant to say not here’s why I can’t pay, but if you give me a little bit of time I can catch up, and here’s my proposal to catch up and hopefully remain in the apartment or the house,” said McEntee.

This agreement also aims to help landlords by sparing them the expense of filing an eviction.

Read the complete article here.

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