Courts, State Agencies Join Together to Host Innovative Eviction Summit

September 23, 2020

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck in mid-March, the laws and regulations surrounding residential evictions have been changing quickly, leaving judicial staff, policymakers, and social organizations scrambling to provide updates and essential services before tenants are left homeless and properties are left vacant. The Tennessee Supreme Court Administrative Office of the Courts, Tennessee Housing Development Agency, Tennessee Department of Human Services and the Access to Justice Commission will host a first-of-its-kind virtual eviction summit on Thursday, October 1 to provide the latest information and help facilitate interdisciplinary solutions across the state that benefit both tenants and landlords.

“We know courts may soon be facing a backlog of eviction cases and the time to take action to prevent homelessness, damaged personal and business credit, and vacant and blighted properties is now when we can bring together different entities to develop solutions for Tennesseans, for government, and for private businesses,” said Deborah Taylor Tate, Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The event is designed for all stakeholders in evictions cases and matters, including judges, court clerks, attorneys, tenants, landlords, mediators, law students and law school faculty, nonprofits, social workers, homelessness prevention and assistance agencies, legislators, and state and local government employees.  

“It’s important for those struggling to pay rent to know that assistance is available, especially for low-income renters most at risk of eviction and, potentially, homelessness. We at THDA are proud to partner with Tennessee’s courts and our colleagues at the Department of Human Services to spread that message and, ultimately, help Tennesseans stay in their homes.” Ralph M. Perrey, Executive Director, Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

The event will kick-off at 10 a.m., and participants will learn about the local, state, and federal laws and orders on evictions that have been enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many evictions have been put on hold since March through a patchwork of federal and state laws, regulations, and orders. There are existing resources available to renters who find themselves unable to pay rent because of COVID-19 but those resources can be difficult to locate and access. Many professionals and organizations are exploring creative ways to connect renters with resources to help keep them in their current housing and possibly prevent them from becoming homeless. The biggest hurdle to creating resources that address both the landlords and tenants' needs is funding, specifically rental assistance. Existing funding opportunities and grant programs will be featured, along with existing resources available to both tenants and landlords. 

“Before the pandemic arrived, and in the months following, DHS has strived to create innovative ways to provide housing, childcare, and employment services families need to remain strong,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes.  “This wrap around support is available to help families stay in their homes when facing a housing crisis and ensure Tennessee can thrive when the COVID-19 pandemic passes.”

The afternoon sessions will include break outs using Zoom rooms on a variety of topics related to evictions.  There will be opportunities for participants to engage in discussion and problem-solving activities built in through-out the day. The only requirement is that attendees commit to actively participating in the interactive sessions and come with an open mind on how to resolve the evictions crisis in Tennessee.

To register for the event, please click here: https://tn-evictions-summit.mailchimpsites.com/

The number of spots available is limited and the event is expected to reach capacity. The morning plenary sessions will be livestreamed and available for anyone to watch – www.YouTube.com/user/TNCourts