Ithaca Evictions/Displacement Defense Project (IEDD)

Overview & Purpose of the IEDD Project

Our community’s vibrancy and strength is contributed by all who live here.  When housing costs threaten to push longtime residents out of the City, we all lose.  This project promotes an engaged community where everyone, regardless of income, has access to the opportunities afforded by living here.

  • Prevent displacement from the City of Ithaca by preventing avoidable non-payment evictions through a comprehensive array of strategies.
  • Fortify all available safety nets for tenants and launch the Housing Stability Supplement Program for those most in need.
  • Work with a racial equity lens to ensure the City of Ithaca thrives.

Snapshot of Conditions

  • The City of Ithaca strives to reduce displacement and increase equity– specifically, Goals #4 and #6 of our Assessment of Fair Housing (2017).
  • 74% of City residents are renters (HUD Consolidated Plan 2019-2023).
  • 56% of City tenants are cost-burdened (rent = more than 30% of their income).
  • 41% of those tenants are severely cost-burdened (rent=more than 50% of income).
  • 49% of Black renters and 45% of Latinx renters are severely cost-burdened, compared to only 25% of white renters (HUD Consolidated Plan 2019-2023).
  • Blacks residents and female-headed households are disproportionately subject to non-payment evictions (2018 local data).
  • Only ~ 3% of tenants in City eviction court had legal representation (2018).

Strategies

  1. Support Housing Hotline and activities providing tenants with legal advice and accurate information.
  2. Support ongoing monitoring of Housing/Eviction Court proceedings to a) ensure fairness and b) build a local database of eviction cases.
  3. Provide access to full-scope legal representation (legal defense) in eviction proceedings.
  4. Provide tenants with the possibility of arrears payment and housing stability supplements where evictions cannot be diverted or avoided.
  5. Support tenant and community education about tenant rights & people power.
  6. Provide adequate staffing to agencies partnering to educate, monitor, empower, advise, and defend Ithacans against displacement.

Projects Supported by Ithaca Eviction Displacement Defense (IEDD)

  1. Housing Law Practicum at Cornell law
  2. Free brief legal advice, supervised by an attorney available by visiting Ithacatenantresources.org or calling 607.301.1560
  3. Court monitoring of all landlord/tenant cases in the City of Ithaca court
  4. Increasing access to full scope representation by the creation of Housing Law fellow position at LawNY and through an additional housing attorney at LawNY
  5. Growing the pool of pro-bono attorneys available to assist with eviction cases
  6. Housing Stability Supplement Program (HSSP) offers monthly income supports and personalized referrals for City of Ithaca tenants at risk of displacement.

Partners

  • Human Services Coalition (HSC) of Tompkins County (Lead Agency)
  • Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA)
  • Cornell University School of Law
  • Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY)
  • National Lawyers Guild Student Chapter, Cornell University
  • Ithaca Housing Hotline
  • Tenant Education Partners

Deliverables

  1. Full-scope representation for 55 tenants faced with eviction.
  2. Tenant rights information to 400 households via Housing Hotline and hardcopy Tenants’ Rights Handbook.
  3. Direct cash benefit via the Housing Stability Supplement for up to 50 eligible tenants for 18 months.
  4. Monitoring of all eviction hearings and development of eviction database.
  5. Development of Pro Bono attorney pool available to assist in eviction defense.

Core Advisory Team

Liddy Bargar, lbargar@hsctc.org , Director of Housing Initiatives, Human Services Coalition.

Carl Feuer, carlfeuer@gmail.com ,Co-Founder, Tompkins County Workers’ Center & The Robin Fund.

Laura Lewis, LLewis@cityofithaca.org ,Alderperson, 5th Ward, City of Ithaca.

Anisa Mendizabal, amendizabal@cityofithaca.org , Community Development Planner, Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency.