The Gilbert Family Foundation’s commitment to housing stability is not only focused on Detroit homeowners, but also renters, who are uniquely vulnerable to displacement. According to research conducted by the investment bank and advisory firm Stout, originally commissioned by the Rocket Community Fund, only four percent of tenants in Detroit have access to legal representation in eviction cases, compared to 83 percent of landlords. Unsurprisingly, this vast disparity leads to greater outcomes for landlords even when the tenant is acting within their legal rights.
This inequity not only leads to families being uprooted, but also drives residents to leave Detroit entirely. Stout found that 12 percent of Detroit evictions may result in residents leaving the city (approximately 700 households and 2,100 residents each year), which has a negative impact on the economic stability of our neighborhoods.
But what happens when tenants have access to legal representation? Stout’s research found that the economic benefit of providing tenants with access to legal counsel far exceeds the cost – for every $1 spent, the city will see $3.52 in economic benefits.
Building on this important research, the Gilbert Family Foundation developed the Detroit Eviction Defense Fund. This $12 million, 3-year program provides low-income Detroit families facing eviction proceedings with legal representation and is expected to benefit nearly 6,000 families per year. Importantly, the Detroit Eviction Defense Fund works in conjunction with the City of Detroit’s Right to Counsel ordinance, which was passed in April 2022.
Through the Detroit Eviction Defense Fund, the Gilbert Family Foundation has also allocated up to $1 million to fund a long-term study into the efficacy of the program as well as the eviction defense ecosystem in Detroit.