Las Vegas Justice Court Receives $1.25 Million Eviction Diversion Grant
Las Vegas Justice Court has received a $1.25 million grant from the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Eviction Diversion Initiative to strengthen eviction diversion efforts and improve housing stability across Clark County, officials announced today.
Las Vegas Justice Court will use the grant funds to establish a summary eviction diversion program with a mission to provide a judicially supervised initiative that utilizes CARE Teams, community partnerships, and stakeholder collaborations to address the holistic needs of individuals and families at risk of eviction or housing instability by identifying creative housing solutions and connecting those individuals to resources, services and housing assistance, thereby avoiding preventable evictions and reducing costs associated with evictions.
The court will implement a CARE Team model under the leadership of the program facilitator, designed after an existing County program designed to support a successful reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals. The teams will be staffed and supported by case managers, eligibility specialists and legal office specialists and will collaborate with mediators, the Civil Law Self Help Center, Legal Aid of Southern Nevada and HELP of Southern Nevada.
“By centralizing resources within the court and offering them earlier in the eviction process, the program will give landlords and tenants the best chance at mitigating the harm of eviction and maintaining housing and financial stability,” said Justice Court Chief Judge Melissa Saragosa. “This is more important than ever as Las Vegas emerges from the pandemic and our residents struggle with a higher cost of living.” She added that the newly funded program will start November 1, 2022, potentially helping thousands of individuals who find themselves facing eviction.
The grant is offered through NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative and is the largest provided to any of the 12 participating courts nationwide. Funding for the program was made possible through a $10 million Wells Fargo Foundation grant awarded to the National Center for State Courts to strengthen eviction diversion efforts in state courts and improve housing stability. The Las Vegas Justice Court will use the grant funding to support an ambitious program to fundamentally transform its housing court and to invest in the resources and staff to do it well.
“We are grateful for the commitment from the Wells Fargo Foundation which allows NCSC to assist courts in developing sustainable solutions to prevent avoidable evictions. We’re also encouraged by courts like Las Vegas that recognize the need to permanently change how courts approach housing problems,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen.
“At Wells Fargo, we believe everyone should have a quality, affordable place to call home, which is the foundation for wellness, dignity, and economic opportunity,” said Otis Rolley, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation and head of Philanthropy and Community Impact. “We are proud to provide this important grant to help Clark County advance its work on keeping people housed and addressing systemic changes in the eviction judicial process.”
“This national grant will allow the courts and Clark County to step up our efforts at keeping people housed and providing stability at a time when the cost of living has increased and the supply of affordable housing is limited,” said Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “I’d like to thank the Wells Fargo Foundation and the National Center for State Courts for this well-timed award.”
"The Eviction Diversion program is a great example of the good work we can do together – bringing together state, federal, county and private partners to tackle this issue," said Governor Steve Sisolak. "I know it’s a complicated issue to try to solve, but I’m proud of the time and resources we’ve all put in towards this effort, and I look forward to the good that is done here paving the way to improve outcomes for all Nevadans."
“Every Nevadan deserves secure, affordable housing. I’m proud to have voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, which has helped to support the Home Means Nevada Initiative and Clark County’s Welcome Home Community Housing fund, both critical initiatives to increase access to affordable housing,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee. “But solving our housing crisis is going to take each and every one of us. I applaud Wells Fargo for this important grant that will help keep families in their homes.”
Las Vegas Justice Court was selected through a competitive application process and review by an advisory council led by NCSC. It will become part of a national network of state courts committed to reforming housing court and reducing the harm of eviction.
The aim of the grant is for each court to hire dedicated staff to implement holistic, sustainable and community-driven strategies for resolving legal problems. Successful eviction diversion programs provide landlords and tenants with the time, information and resources necessary to resolve their housing problems in a sustainable way while avoiding prolonged litigation.
Courts will benefit from ongoing peer-learning opportunities, a national evaluation led by Stout Risius Ross LLC, and intensive technical assistance provided by NCSC as they implement eviction diversion and court reform strategies that leverage community resources including legal aid and mediation services, housing and financial counseling and rental assistance programs.
The Eviction Diversion Initiative cohort includes courts located in Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. Visit ncsc.org/eviction for more information about NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative.
Clark County officials welcomed the announcement and said the new court program will complement its efforts in support of affordable housing, including last month’s decision by the County Commission to spend nearly $120 million to support the development of more than 3,100 homes for low-income families and seniors across the community. These initial Welcome Home funds are the first of its kind by a local government in Nevada.
In April, Welcome Home, Clark County’s Community Housing Fund, was created to address the urgent need for housing for low-income residents – families, seniors, and those who are employed, but unable to find affordable housing. Altogether, the funding will support the construction of 2,139 new housing units, plus the rehabilitation of 967 existing units. Welcome Home Community Housing Fund dollars were provided to developments that needed gap financing to supplement Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and other financing sources. The funding approved includes $12.5 million for 276 new apartments for seniors near the intersection of Decatur and Rome boulevards, $12 million to rehabilitate 237 units in the Desert Rose Apartments near North 28th Street and Charleston Boulevard, and $4 million for 176 new apartments for families at 4000 E. Desert Inn Road. Future uses of the Welcome Home funds are expected to include homeownership opportunities for residents currently priced out of the housing market, a Community Land Trust, and annual investments in affordable rental housing. The County is also planning a future funding round for permanent supportive housing projects and is assessing opportunities for affordable housing development on County-owned land.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.3 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.