In 2018, the Ramsey County Housing Court in St. Paul, Minnesota, implemented a unique clinic to help tenants avoid evictions. The clinic housed several service providers, including legal services, mediators, and housing case managers, in the courthouse to support tenants. After the clinic provided much-needed assistance to renters for a year, a local nonprofit, the Family Housing Fund, began to consider the value of providing assistance earlier and preventing renters from receiving an eviction filing in the first place. This idea was the basis of the Family Housing Fund’s application to the Nittoli Fellowship at the Urban Institute, a partnership bringing together researchers and social service practitioners.
This partnership led to an idea for a pre-filing eviction clinic. It would take the same service partnerships housed at the court and provide them at crisis clinics hosted by the multiservice nonprofit Neighborhood House. The Urban institute supported this pilot by evaluating and documenting its design, its implementation, and the lessons learned. In this brief, we examine the nation’s current eviction crisis, the design and implementation of the Ramsey County Pre-Filing Eviction Clinic, and takeaways from the pilot.