City selects United Community Housing Coalition to manage Eviction Defense services to renters


City selects United Community Housing Coalition to manage Eviction Defense services to renters

  • City will submit contract with UCHC to City Council for approval as first step toward establishment of Office of Eviction Defense under Right to Counsel ordinance
  • UCHC to subcontract with local legal providers to build case capacity
  • Mayor expected to name Executive Director and Project Manager for Office of Eviction Defense by end of November
  • Tenants facing unlawful eviction still have access to representation today when attending their court hearings.

DETROIT, Michigan – The City of Detroit is planning to enter a contract with a deeply trusted community-based housing rights organization to manage intake and referrals for legal defense for Detroiters facing eviction, Mayor Mike Duggan announced today.  After a competitive application process, the City has selected the United Community Housing Coalition to manage the provision of eviction defense services to qualified City of Detroit residents.

United Community Housing Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing housing assistance to Detroit’s low-income residents. Since 1973, UCHC has worked to keep people in their homes and secure affordable housing for those in need. Contracting with UCHC for this service is the first major step the City is taking to establish the Office of Eviction Defense as required under the Right to Counsel ordinance approved by City Council in May.  In the next two weeks, the Mayor will announce the hiring of an executive director and project manager to lead the operations of the Office of Eviction Defense.

“Over the past two years, the City has taken unprecedented steps to help Detroit renters stay current on their rent and to provide them legal representation if they are being subjected to an unlawful eviction,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “We have one of the finest housing rights organizations anywhere in the United Community Housing Coalition and look forward to swift approval from City Council so we can build our legal team capacity as quickly as possible to help as many Detroiters as possible.”

Once under an approved by City Council contract, Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett is asking UCHC to manage a bid process that could allow the other five organizations that applied for the work, to act as sub-recipient contractors. 

“We have a number of outstanding community legal service organizations that already are providing legal representation for renters and all of them I think are qualified to be on new the team.” said Mallett. “We are going to need all the help we can get to meet the demand we expect.”

Once fully operational, the Office of Eviction Defense will provide legal counsel and representation to anyone earning up to twice the federal poverty level. The new office will be funded for the next three years with $6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds committed by the Duggan administration.  Separately, the Gilbert Family Foundation has pledged $12 million over the next three years to provide eviction legal defense for 6,000 low-income Detroit families with children.

Since the start of the pandemic, the City and its partners have directed more than $300 million toward eviction prevention and defense, providing rental assistance to nearly 30,000 households and legal representation to more than 15,000 Detroit renters.  Today, renters facing eviction have access to legal counsel or representation by showing up for their court hearing with a copy of their Notice to Quit.

The 36th District Court sees an average of 30,000 eviction cases annually and a University of Michigan's Poverty Solutions study found that tenants are nearly 90% more successful in winning their cases when they have an attorney provided to them.  

Creation of the new office of Eviction Defense is a requirement under the Right to Counsel ordinance spearheaded by Council President Mary Sheffield, which was approved in May. 

"I am excited to arrive at the moment when the Right to Counsel Ordinance and the Office of Eviction Defense created by the legislation is on the precipice of providing this critical service to some of Detroit's most vulnerable residents. It also brings me great pleasure that the United Community Housing Coalition has been chosen to manage the program and to work with other organizations who have been providing these services for decades,” said Council President Sheffield. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Right to Counsel coalition, providers, advocates and recipients to ensure full funding and implementation of the ordinance.”