Wells Fargo bank. (Shutterstock)

By AFRO Staff

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) on June 1 announced it has received a $10 million grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation to strengthen eviction diversion efforts in state courts and improve housing stability.

The landmark announcement took place June 1 at the Historic DC Courthouse in Washington, D.C. Courts in the District of Columbia and eight states are the beneficiaries of the Wells Fargo Foundation grant and NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative.

“This unprecedented support from the Wells Fargo Foundation gives us the opportunity to help courts and communities overcome the housing challenges experienced as a result of the pandemic,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen.“By equipping courts with the needed resources and strategies to prevent avoidable evictions and promote housing stability, we’re working to permanently change how courts approach housing problems in a sustainable way that fairly supports all parties.”

“The harm of eviction disproportionately falls on communities of color, and courts play an important role in helping vulnerable communities obtain access to services to resolve the immediate crisis and move toward housing stability,” McQueen added.

Courts were selected for the program through a competitive application process reviewed by the EDI Advisory Council, which includes state supreme court chief justices, state court administrators and a Wells Fargo Foundation representative. Each court will use the grant funding to hire dedicated staff to implement holistic, sustainable, and community-driven strategies for resolving eviction problems.

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.

“With eviction moratoriums ending, there’s an urgency to find more ways to keep people in their home,” said Bill Daley, vice chairman of public affairs at Wells Fargo. “This grant will help address the eviction issue holistically by bringing landlords, tenants, judges and key stakeholders together to work toward equitable resolutions. With this kind of collaboration, we believe communities, like Washington D.C., will lead the way in transforming the eviction process and achieve better outcomes for people’s lives and livelihoods.”

“This is such a tremendous opportunity to improve upon what we have already built over the course of the global pandemic,” said D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby. “With the commitment and contributions from the National Center for State Courts and Wells Fargo Foundation, the D.C. Courts remain as committed as ever to do what we can to keep people in their homes during these turbulent times.”

States benefiting from the grant program include Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Visit ncsc.org/eviction for more information about NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative.

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