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Detroit announces new leaders of Office of Eviction Defense

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Detroit officials have announced new hires for the city’s Office of Eviction Defense. As part of the newly enacted Right to Counsel ordinance, the office was supposed to begin serving Detroiters at the beginning of October.

The Executive Editor and Program Manager will start their new jobs in January.

The office is planned to have a director and an assistant who will coordinate implementation of the city’s mandate to provide lawyers for residents who make below 200% of the federal poverty line and are facing eviction.

April Faith-Slaker will lead the Office of Eviction Defense as its Executive Director and Dylon Adrine will serve as Program Manager.

April Faith-Slaker will lead Detroit's newly-formed Office of Eviction Defense.
City of Detroit
Michigan Radio
April Faith-Slaker will lead Detroit's newly-formed Office of Eviction Defense.

She most recently served as the Associate Director of the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School, working on rigorous research studies addressing equal access to justice in civil and criminal fields, according to a press release.

“April particularly comes to us with deep experience, academic training, but more importantly, a consultants point of view, having done this kind of work, supporting other courts that have introduced eviction defense programs similar to the one we're trying to set up here,” said Conrad Mallett, the city’s corporation counsel. He’ll be Faith-Slaker’s direct manager.

Adrine served as a process improvement consultant on Mayor Duggan’s Lean Six Sigma team, working to improve efficiency across several city departments, a press release stated. Adrine will work directly with the city’s vendor who will be in charge of contracting with law firms to represent the city’s clients.

The city’s chosen vendor is the United Community Housing Coalition, but the city is still finalizing the contract which will have to be approved by City Council once they’re back in session.

Mallett says that the two new hires will help connect UCHC and clients to other city departments to address barriers people might be facing.

“We're going to provide access and actually shepherd them through the whole social services maze to see if we can create a whole collection of different opportunities around housing, around work, around child care, around all of the barriers that people in Detroit who are poor experience,” Mallett said. “So we're really trying to get to a point where what HRD, the Housing Revitalization Department does, connects back to our Right to Counsel, connects back to the Community Health Corps, connects back to Detroit, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, so that Mrs. Jones doesn't enter this maze where she gets frustrated because she's got to call 17 different numbers.”

He says the office will also be tracking data on how many residents use this service and office to help quantify the need in the city.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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