Eviction Diversion Program Now Includes Targeted Financial Assistance Component

PHILADELPHIA, PA-January 31, 2023-Today the City of Philadelphia and PHDC announced the creation of a Targeted Financial Assistance (TFA) component of the City’s successful Eviction Diversion Program Eligible landlords and tenants participating in the Eviction Diversion Program may be selected to apply for a one-time payment from the City to a landlord to cover a tenant’s rent arrears.

The City of Philadelphia’s FREE Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) helps landlords and tenants resolve disputes and avoid going to court. EDP facilitates satisfactory and sustainable landlord-tenant agreements through mediation or supported direct negotiation. Per City Ordinance # 220655, EDP is required before a landlord can file an eviction in court. Landlords initiate the eviction diversion process after sending tenants the Notice of Diversion Rights (NOR).

City officials have allocated 30 million in funding to TFA. The benefits of participation in the Eviction Diversion Program are:

  • Tenants avoid an eviction filing or judgment on their record that could prevent them from accessing quality housing in the future.
  • Landlords save money by avoiding court fees and attorney expenses.
  • The court reduces caseloads, putting less strain on the court system.
  • Low-income renters and landlords are assisted with applications for rental assistance and other resources to stabilize their housing during the pandemic.
  • Landlords recoup back rent owed while avoiding vacancies and unit turnover costs.

“The Eviction Diversion Program is a means for the City to help tenants and landlords resolve residential rental issues while avoiding a costly or drawn-out court process,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “With this new Targeted Financial Assistance component, people who fell behind on their rent have the opportunity to start over and keep their home.”

TFA may be awarded if a tenant and landlord are eligible and participate in the program in good faith. The award is equal to the total amount of arrears plus one-month’s rent. Eligibility is determined after an Eviction Diversion application is submitted. Good Faith Participation means that a tenant and landlord have both made reasonable efforts to complete the program.

Over 4000 landlord/tenant pairs have participated in previous iterations of the Eviction Diversion Program since 2020. Almost 75 percent of participants have reached an agreement that allowed the tenants to remain in their residences and avoid eviction.

Between May 2020 and January 2023, the City and PHDC disbursed nearly 300 million in federal, state, and local emergency COVID relief dollars to assist over 46,500 households. For most of this period, landlords and tenants applied directly to PHDC’s PHLRentAssist program to access these funds. PHLRentAssist closed to new applications on January 2022 and had disbursed all remaining funds as of January 2023.

For a landlord to meet the definition of good faith participation, the following conditions must be met:

  • Provide evidence that the Notice of Diversion Rights was sent to tenant, updated ledger account of any balances owed, and any additional issues to address through mediation as required.
  • Provide current and accurate contact information for tenant as part of the Eviction Diversion Program application.
  • Respond timely to requests for communication from a tenant, a housing counselor, or City-funded agency representative to resolve application issues or reach an agreement.
  • Attend mediation sessions as scheduled. A landlord may have an agent attend, but the landlord must be available by phone to participate if needed. The agent must have all necessary information and authority to resolve disputes and enter into agreements.
  • During mediation, the landlord must make reasonable efforts to address all lease issues that could lead to eviction in addition to applying for rental assistance.
  • If eligible for Targeted Financial Assistance, a landlord must apply for TFA within 5 days of EDP application approval. Landlords will be notified of eligibility and provided with instructions for the TFA application.

For a tenant to meet the definition of good faith participation, the following conditions must be met:

  • Tenant must actively participate by attending mediation sessions as scheduled. If not, a tenant risks non-compliance and the legal process of eviction.
  • Tenant must attempt to address all issues raised.
  • Tenant must submit all requested materials for Targeted Financial Assistance within 5 days of request.

For more details about “good faith participation” and other aspects of the Eviction Diversion Program, see questions about the Eviction Diversion Program application and mediation process, contact Cora Good Shepherd Mediation at evictiondiversionprogram@coraservices.org or the Eviction Diversion Program Tenant Hotline at 215-523-9501.

For general questions about tenant’s rights, free legal advice and possible representation, tenants may call the Philly Tenant Hotline at 267-443-2500 or visit Phillytenant.org.