Allen County Courts gets funding for eviction diversion initiative

UPDATE (June 2, 2022):

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – Following the closure of the Emergency Rent and Utility Assistance Program, Allen County Superior Court and several community partners announced a new initiative to handle evictions more effectively.

Allen Superior Court has received a $164,040 grant from the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Eviction Diversion Initiative to strengthen eviction diversion efforts and improve housing stability in the community.

Superior Court was selected through a competitive application process and review by an advisory council led by NCSC. Thirteen jurisdictions nationwide received grants through the program.

The project holds the potential to improve outcomes for property owners and tenants alike. Last year, more than 2,800 eviction cases were filed in Allen County.

Allen County Superior Court released the following:

“Over the past two years our community has faced challenges that we never imagined,” said Allen Superior Court Chief Judge Jennifer DeGroote. “The pandemic aggravated already serious problems posed by the number of evictions we experience in Allen County. Building a dedicated Eviction Diversion Initiative will benefit tenants and landlords, keep more people in their homes, and diminish the profound impact on lives that can result from a loss of housing.”

Superior Court will use the grant funding to hire dedicated staff to implement holistic, sustainable, and community-driven strategies for resolving legal problems. Successful eviction diversion programs provide landlords and tenants with the time, information, and resources necessary to resolve their housing problems without prolonged litigation.

In recent years, prior to pandemic-related eviction moratoriums, the number of evictions filed in Allen County has been as high as 5,300 in 2018. In 2021, a year in which eviction moratoriums began to wind down, the total number of eviction claims filed was 2,811.

Courts will benefit from ongoing peer learning opportunities, a national evaluation led by Stout Risius Ross LLC, and intensive technical assistance provided by NCSC as they implement eviction diversion and court reform strategies that leverage community resources including legal aid and mediation services, housing and financial counseling, and rental assistance programs.

States benefiting from the grant program include Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, along with the District of Columbia.

Click here for more information about NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative. The Indiana Judicial Branch website has information related to evictions and facilitation.

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

Emergency Rent and Utility Assistance Program closes

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – On Monday, the City of Fort Wayne’s Community Development Division announced that the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) has closed and will not be accepting new applications.

The program was established with federal funding to assist those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by temporarily assisting with rent and utility bills. At this time, the City has committed all of the program funds available. Although the City does not anticipate receiving additional funding for this program, officials say that the City will continue to pursue other funding to assist in keeping families in their homes.

Due to the success of the program, the City says it received an additional $12.9 million in rental assistance funding. Since March 8, 2021, more than 6,322 households have received over $19 million in assistance through the program. Of that funding, more than $17.7 million in rental assistance and nearly $2.1 million in utility assistance was provided to Fort Wayne households.

Fort Wayne renters requiring rent and utility assistance can now apply to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority by calling 211 or visiting www.IndianaHousingNow.org. Renters experiencing a housing or eviction crisis can contact the Just Neighbors Eviction Intervention Program at 260-918-6662 for assistance.

In the upcoming weeks, the City says it will be announcing additional partnerships to address housing instability.