July 27, 2023

HSA Summary – June 2023

June 2023 Meeting Summary and Network Next Steps

The Housing Stability Alliance (HSA) gathered in person on June 9, 2023. Goals included: 1) provide an update on the System Mapping that was presented at the March HSA, as well as a policy and advocacy update, 2) understand the current state of the eviction system in Kent County and 3) share the first iteration of the Eviction Prevention Framework to receive feedback from the HSA. There were 65 people in-person, as well as six who attended virtually.

President Eureka People opened the convening by sharing our shared vision – that every person in Kent County should be stably housed—or better. To ensure that, the HSA will focus on increasing affordable housing, dissolving homelessness, and eliminating the racial disparities in the housing system. Eureka also identified specific and measurable goals tied to those objectives and described the Path to Housing Stability, with its distinct stages across the housing continuum. Senior Director of Data & Policy, Alex Kontras, shared an update on the System Map, and how feedback from the HSA was critical in the updated survey format and including even more organizations in the data collection He then shared an update on the Advocacy Action Alert on Fair Housing Protections legislation on source of income, as well as upcoming policy work being done by the action team.

The HSA was then led in an activity by Senior Director of Community Engagement and Equity, Adisa Chaney, to test their knowledge on the eviction process and the current state of evictions in Kent County. Eviction Prevention Action Team members then presented on the current state of evictions in Kent County, including preliminary data on a survey conducted by the Heart of West Michigan United Way (HWMUW), of those who applied for COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) funds. Next the team presented on the legal process of an eviction, including what the landlord is required to do and what a tenant is required to do.

Following the current state and eviction process presentations, the HSA asked questions related to the CERA data as well as the eviction process. Questions ranged from what zip codes were included in the CERA survey to specific questions related to the eviction proceedings. Attendees could also submit questions in writing if they preferred. The Eviction Prevention Action Team then presented its eviction prevention beta framework. The presentation included key findings that came out of the Eviction Collab Lab in early May—lack of overall funding, particularly pre-legal action; the current system is reactive, not proactive; the lack of coordinated effort in eviction prevention. The framework presented took into account things like ease of accessibility, case management, going beyond the urban core, ongoing public will building, and sustainability.

Table Talk Sessions

Table Talk 1 focused on the Lived Experience Profile of Cathy LaPorte and her role as a landlord in Kent County. The Lived Experience Profiles are part of telling the story of housing across the county, showing the impact the current housing system has on those living in the area. Tables were asked to consider the following questions: 1) What new insights emerged for you? 2) How can this story help improve the way we solve system problems?

During the second table talk, participants were asked to give feedback on the beta eviction prevention framework. Tables were asked to consider the following questions: 1) What do you like about this Eviction Prevention framework? What strengths do you see?; 2) What do you feel is missing from this framework? Is there anything you find confusing? 3) What will you/your organization need to buy-in, support, or align with changes to the eviction system?; 4) How can we get more representation from the rural communities in the county? The Eviction Prevention Framework is in the beta phase. If you have questions or additional feedback, please contact Alex Kontras at alex@housingkent.org. The summary notes from both table talks is available here.

Next Steps

At the conclusion of the convening, members shared their thoughts on the beta eviction prevention framework. One landlord shared that the presentation and discussion gave him a different perspective and will change how he interacts with tenants—from reactive to proactive. Another attendee who works with the 61st District Court to help tenants who are facing a potential eviction, said that she has been waiting for something like this for the past few years and really didn’t think that anything would happen, and is hopeful that change to the system will come.

There is still work to be done on the framework before it is ready to pilot. If eviction prevention is of interest to you, please send an email to info@housingkent.org for more information. If you have not joined one of the action teams, please consider being part of Data & Shared Measurement, Community Engagement, or Policy & Advocacy. To learn more about the teams, please visit our website and complete this form. You can also reach out to info@housingkent.org.

Housing our community is the responsibility of all of us. Please consider joining us to help build this coalition to make Kent County a model for a fair and stably housed community. Thank you for being part of this work.