The Tenant Resource Center, in partnership with Community Justice Inc. (CJI), Legal Action of Wisconsin (LAW), and the University of Wisconsin Law School, launched the Eviction Diversion and Defense Partnership (EDDP) in the Fall of 2021. Using funding made available by Dane County and the City of Madison, the EDDP aims to improve tenants’ housing stability.
The EDDP is able to improve tenants’ housing stability by increasing access to legal representation and other housing support services as well as court navigation services provided by the Tenant Resource Center. The impacts of eviction are not felt evenly. Black and Latina/o/x renters are evicted disproportionately when compared to white renters. Access to legal representation can mollify the power imbalance between tenants and landlords by ensuring that tenants, especially those who are members of marginalized groups, have access to the same quality of legal resources their counterparts enjoy.
Utilizing the Dane CORE Program, the emergency rental assistance program for Dane County, the Tenant Resource Center is better able to ensure that rent assistance covers only lawful charges. In doing so, the Tenant Resource Center improves the efficiency of emergency rental assistance funds, which makes it possible to serve more distressed renters. Both tenants and landlords throughout Dane County utilize services provided by the Tenant Resource Center for information on their rights and responsibilities. The value added by making direct referrals for legal assistance significantly enhances the community’s access to the resources needed to maintain stable housing.
In Fall 2022, Peoples Law Center (PLC) joined the partnership, thus expanding our capacity to cover tenants in Dane County and increase the number of Spanish-speaking tenants represented by the program.
In the past quarter, the Tenant Resource Center has implemented changes to funding parameters from the City of Madison and Dane County, made improvements to internal systems for handling cases, launched a working group to explore solutions for limited English proficiency tenants, and expanded the functionality of data collection methods for the program.
The current roster of EDDP legal partners with 2022-2023 contracts are Community Justice Inc. (CJI), Legal Action of Wisconsin (LAW), Peoples Law Center (PLC), and the University of Wisconsin Law School Eviction Defense Clinic (UW EDC).