United Way of Chester County invests $250,000 over a three-year commitment to expand Friends Association’s Eviction Prevention Court Program (EPC) countywide. The program provides a combination of free legal representation, financial assistance, and social service support to tenants who appear before the court for an eviction filing. The goal is to avoid the devastating immediate and downstream consequences of eviction for tenants and the immense financial costs to landlords, taxpayers, and our community.
“Eviction has been linked to homelessness, substandard housing conditions, job instability, school instability and depression,” said Christopher Saello, President & CEO of United Way of Chester County. “One of the leading interventions to prevent evictions is providing legal assistance to at-risk tenants, which is why it is crucial to expand this successful program countywide.”
In September 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Friends Association launched the county’s first EPC program in the Downingtown Magisterial District Court. Based on its success, in January 2021 they expanded the program to the two Magisterial District Courts serving the Coatesville are. Last year, these courts represented 26% of the cases filed in Chester County, down from 31% in 2019, which is attributed to the success of EPC. The need for expansion is clear and the goal is to increase to five additional courts in the next year.
“We appreciate United Way of Chester County’s continual support, as they were our first funder and partner in the commitment to create a Chester County where homelessness and housing instability are rare and brief, where all our community members have equal access to safe, affordable housing, and where Black and/or Indigenous People of Color who are disproportionately impacted by eviction have adequate representation when faced with eviction and unfair housing issues,” said Jennifer Lopez, CEO of Friends Association. “Eviction Prevention Court helps us reach this goal by not only helping each individual household stay safely housed, but also by working in collaboration with the courts to create system change by becoming a standard part of the eviction court process.”
United Way of Chester County fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Chester County. To learn more about this program, please visit www.friendsassoc.org. If you are experiencing a housing emergency, please call 2-1-1 or text your zip code to #898-211.