Report finds financial returns on funding lawyers for tenants threatened with eviction

Pat Loeb
November 13, 2018 - 4:00 am
Philadelphia City Hall

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Evictions rates are high across the country but Philadelphia's is 1.5 times the national average. The Philadelphia Bar Association has a proposal they think will help and save the city some money. 
 
The Bar Association got consultant Neil Steinkamp to do a study about the economics of providing tenants with legal counsel. 

He found that one in 14 renters in Philadelphia had faced an eviction filing from 2010 to 2015, which is higher than the national average, and 93 percent of them had no one representing them in landlord tenant court. 

If the city put $3.5 million into lawyers for tenants faced with eviction, the results for tenants would be so much better that the city would save $45 million it's now spending on the shelter system and other services it provides to people after they're evicted, the study concludes.  

"Our report and analysis, I think, clearly demonstrate that it's a very wise investment for the City of Philadelphia to consider expanding representation, perhaps even a right to counsel for eviction cases, which other cities are exploring and have enacted in some cases," said Steinkamp. 

He finds when tenants have lawyers, they can resolve their problem without disruption 95 percent of the time. But the vast majority, who have no lawyer, lose 78 percent of the time.