“When individuals are displaced,” Amit said, “they lose the stability of their neighborhoods and communities, leading to increased reliance on government resources.” Displacement has lasting effects on the physical and mental health of people, including children. “
Cities with legal advice programs can actually achieve cost savings, according to the TU study. For example, a Baltimore cost-benefit analysis estimated that every dollar spent on legal advice for tenants would save $ 3.06 in social service expenses.
The TU report entitled “Leveling the Playing Field” was not the first to recommend lawyers for tenants. It has become one of the most frequently cited reform ideas, and Legal Aid Services has already stepped up efforts to provide free advice to some tenants. But tenants need the help now more than ever, said Katie Dilks, executive director of the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation.
“This report couldn’t be more up-to-date,” Dilks said, “as Tulsa is exposed to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on tenants.”
The latest federal stimulus package included additional funding for rent support to help tenants catch up on overdue rents and avoid an increase in evictions after the moratorium expired.
“To ensure that tenants really get this support,” Dilks said, “legal representation is vital.”