By: Stout Risius Ross. Published by: Philadelphia Bar Association’s Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force. Published on November 13, 2018.
Stout Risius Ross, a research and consulting firm, prepared an independent opinion regarding the cost and benefit to the city regarding establishing a right to legal representation for low-income Philadelphia residents in eviction, ejectment and foreclosure proceedings. SRR identified, compared, and evaluated key components of each report. Additionally, SRR has identified certain benefits / cost savings that funding right to counsel in eviction matters would bring to the city.
- “Poor conditions in rental housing are common throughout Philadelphia, particularly for low-income tenants – those least likely to be able to afford legal representation. However, low-income tenants rarely file a legal claim when conditions violate state and local law because they often do not recognize they have a right to take legal action. Furthermore, thousands of tenants in Philadelphia do not file a legal claim when they are illegally locked out of their homes for the same reason” (p. 6).
- “The disparity in representation, and the knowledge, skills, experience, expertise, and perceived power of landlord attorneys who negotiate with low-income unrepresented tenants, often results in outcomes for tenants that cause significant disruption to their lives and displacement of their families” (p. 7).
- “Stout has also estimated that the return on investment is at least $12.74 – that is, for every dollar Philadelphia spends on providing legal representation to low-income tenants, it will receive a benefit of at least $12.74. Stout’s assessment of annual cost is based on providing legal services to approximately 4,400 Philadelphia tenants facing eviction proceedings” (p. 8).
- “Across the City and especially in gentrifying neighborhoods, affordable housing stock has been steadily declining. Between 2000 and 2014, Philadelphia lost one out of every five rental units with monthly gross rent of $750 or less” (p. 13).