Mayor Duggan appoints Detroit native new Executive Director of Office of Eviction Defense
- Diamond Conley named new Executive Director of the Office of Eviction Defense, after serving as Deputy Director for several months
- Conley has spent her entire career giving back to the less fortunate in various capacities
- Office of Eviction Defense up and running, growing fast to serve more Detroiters
Today, Mayor Mike Duggan announces the appointment of Detroit native Diamond Conley as Executive Director of the city’s Office of Eviction Defense. Conley replaces April Faith-Slaker, who got the office up and running at the beginning of 2023 in compliance with Detroit’s Right to Counsel ordinance.
Conley has spent her entire career giving back to those less fortunate and says she’s honored and excited for the opportunity to serve these same residents at this level. “Every decision I’ve made in my career has brought me to this point,” she said. “I have always had a mindset of giving back and feel it’s necessary to help those who need and deserve a strong advocate, someone who can help those who may lack resources, education or simply feel disempowered.”
Having seen the Office of Eviction Defense take shape firsthand, Conley is excited to continue to see it grow and to put more attorneys in place to help Detroiters facing eviction. She says this work is important to her both personally and professionally, as Conley has family and friends here in Detroit, some of whom are looking for safe and affordable housing.
“Diamond Conley is the right person for this job. Her passion for advocacy will surely create an environment where more Detroiters are aware of and utilize the resources made available by this office,” said Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett, Jr. “We thank April Faith-Slaker for the work she has done to create the Office of Eviction Defense. Her expertise in data analytics helped set the City of Detroit up for success.”
Conley has already identified several priorities as she takes the helm at the Office of Eviction Defense. She is working to create an app to help connect Detroiters who may only have internet access on their phones to valuable information, such as resources available through her office and information about what they’ll need to bring with them when they show up to court. Conley says she is working with vendors here in the city to hire more attorneys to beef up the office’s presence at 36th District Court. She also plans to increase the office’s efforts to reach the population of Detroiters who are not showing up to court, even though they are eligible for help and stand a good chance of winning their case if they appear in court.
Conley has also already begun to have conversations with Detroit’s Department of Buildings, Safety and Environmental Engineering to determine how her office can assist in helping with landlord education and compliance. Conley is working on new ways to create more transparency around the Office of Eviction Defense and engage with the community. Prior to her work as Deputy Director of the Office of Eviction Defense, Conley has always worked to advocate for others. She served residents as a staff attorney at Lakeshore Legal Aid for several years and saw firsthand the problems many Detroiters faced when it came to needing help navigating the complicated world of landlord-tenant relations, especially related to evictions and landlords who weren’t keeping up their properties. Conley also served as a public defender here in Detroit and worked as an advocate to those charged with felonies.
Born and raised in Detroit, Conley is a proud graduate of Cass Tech. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Grand Valley State University and her law degree from Michigan State University’s College of Law, where she specialized in child and family advocacy. Conley is also a certified coach and works at a crisis center to counsel those who are faced with thoughts of harming themselves and others. Conley’s first day in her new role was Monday, October 16th.
Detroit’s Office of Eviction Defense was created as a result of the Right to Counsel Ordinance passed in 2022 and provides legal counsel and representation to anyone earning up to twice the federal poverty level who is facing eviction. The office was initially funded with $6 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds committed by the Duggan administration, with another $12 million in ARPA funding allocated by Detroit City Council in April for this important work. The State of Michigan has also earmarked $2.5 million in funding to the Right to Counsel program. 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.