The struggle continues for a fully funded Right to Counsel Program
Why is the Duggan administration blocking aid to Black and low income households in Detroit?
The Right to Counsel (RTC) is a hard fought for and hard-won public policy and ordinance that will increase housing security and reduce the number of unjust evictions that are driving majority Black Detroiters out of the city.
Right to Counsel (RTC) is a policy created to provide legal support to households who are facing eviction and foreclosure and lack resources to secure legal representation to ensure they do not face unjust and illegal evictions and foreclosures. Yet, the Duggan administration appears to be blocking the RTC ordinance full funding and implementation despite City Council’s unanimous approval of the ordinance and the allocation of additional funding of $12 million to ensure full funding for the program in the recent city budget.
The original funding request from the RTC Coalition called for an annual budget of $18 million dollars thought to be sufficient to fund full legal representation for those who qualify. However, the administration budgeted a mere $6 million of ARPA funding- over the course of the next three (3) years which translates into $2 million annual funding – a third of what the RTC Coalition is recommending.
Across the nation Right to Counsel (RTC) programs have been shown to be successful in important ways. RTC disrupts the uneven power situation where low income tenants and homeowners without legal support often face landlords and mortgage holders who almost always show up in court with attorney representation thereby WINNING on the case. Also, adequate legal representation thru RTC has reduced unjust evictions and foreclosures that result in neighborhood instability and displacement. The administration’s failure to quickly rollout and adequately fund the Right to Counsel (RTC) is a failure to respond to the housing crisis at hand where thousands of Detroiters including women with children face the life altering act of eviction and homelessness.
The challenges associated with the implementation of Detroit’s Right To Counsel are indicative of a disturbing and repeating pattern whereby Detroiters ORGANIZE and WIN just and community centered solutions only to be torpedoed by the administration.