Eviction Diversion Initiative (EDI) Frequently Asked Questions
The EDI grant program is a collaboration between courts from across the country with a broader vision of creating programs, policies, and resources that can be replicated and adapted in many more jurisdictions beyond the initial cohort.
NCSC will compile and share best practices and lessons learned from the EDI jurisdictions. Until then, check out NCSC’s Eviction Resources for Courts for additional insights and resources on designing and implementing eviction diversion programs.
All grant decisions will be announced April 2022.
The Eviction Diversion Initiative (EDI) is a four-year grant program of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) that will provide funding, resources and technical assistance to courts across the country to fundamentally transform their eviction courts to prioritize holistic, sustainable and community-driven resolutions to legal problems. EDI jurisdictions will receive funding to hire dedicated court staff to support their eviction diversion programs and related court reform efforts.
America is the middle of an ongoing eviction crisis with millions of families facing displacement from their homes each year. While the crisis existed well before Covid-19, the pandemic has shone new light on the magnitude and far-reaching consequences of the problem. Each individual eviction case has the potential not just to disrupt a family’s housing, but also its ability to access and maintain employment, education, financial security, and health care with consequences that have a disproportionately destabilizing effect on communities of color.
While evictions do not begin in state and local courts, that is where they are usually finalized. Tenants in eviction court, almost always appearing without a lawyer, are some of the most vulnerable users of the civil court system and usually lack the support they need to successfully understand and navigate court proceedings. Housing providers share in the negative consequences of costly, time-consuming, and often avoidable eviction proceedings. As courts adapt to a post-pandemic future, they have an opportunity to move away from a status quo that all too often pits unrepresented tenants against represented landlords in under-resourced courtrooms, and to redesign their eviction courts to focus on improving outcomes and experiences for all litigants.
Successful eviction diversion programs will provide landlords and tenants with the time, information, and resources necessary to resolve their housing problems without prolonged litigation. Court-based eviction diversion programs are as diverse as the courts that design them, but generally include some combination of the following:
- On-site legal aid and mediation services,
- On-site housing or financial counseling,
- Tailored referrals to legal and other service providers,
- Screening for rental and financial assistance programs,
- Assistance navigating the court process,
- Assistance negotiating or reviewing settlement agreements,
- Sealing of court records when appropriate and permissible under local law,
- User-friendly court rules and procedures,
- Technology to improve access to the court system and service providers, and
- Self-help resources for landlords and tenants.
For an overview of different eviction diversion models, see the NCSC Eviction Diversion Planning Resources.
Yes! While federal rental assistance funds provided a vital lifeline to hundreds of thousands of landlords and tenants during the pandemic, eviction diversion programs existed before ERA funding and will continue to adapt and thrive even after its expiration.
EDI jurisdictions will take a multi-pronged approach to eviction diversion that incorporates both referrals and connections to legal and supportive services alongside process improvements and simplification efforts. Together, these changes will make evictions courtrooms more accessible and user-friendly while still providing litigants with opportunities for early resolution when practical.
The negative consequences of an eviction judgement can multiply over time, making it difficult to secure decent housing and negatively impacting many aspects of a tenant’s life. Eviction diversion programs can mitigate that harm, even if a tenant will ultimately need to relocate, by providing tenants with the time and resources necessary to move out with dignity and without an eviction on their record, while also recognizing the financial and other difficulties faced by housing providers.
Eviction diversion programs can also play in role in screening and referring cases where a tenant may have a full or partial defense and could benefit from the services of a legal aid or pro bono lawyer. Lastly, eviction diversion programs can also provide additional support and time for courts to ensure that plaintiffs have met all filing requirements and proved all the necessary elements of a case before entering an eviction judgement.