For months, the U.S. has been preparing for an anticipated wave of evictions and foreclosures due to COVID-19. A recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) suggests that the amount of potential foreclosures and evictions the U.S. is facing is at a level that hasn’t been seen since the height of the Great Recession in 2010. In the report, the CFPB notes that, as of December 2020, 11 million U.S. renters and homeowners are significantly overdue on their regularly housing payments and are at risk of foreclosure or eviction.
As I have previously reported, courts across the country have been preparing for this wave of evictions by exploring using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for eviction cases. In February, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an Order that authorizes and encourages Illinois courts to use ADR for eviction cases and establish Eviction Early Resolution Programs. The Order leaves room for courts to choose whether their programs will be voluntary or mandatory and select the type of ADR that their program will use. Additionally, the Order encourages circuits to allow parties meaningful opportunities to access various counseling services such as financial, housing and relocation services. Additionally, the Order encourages court programs to provide opportunities for unrepresented parties to obtain legal information or representation. To aid courts in developing their eviction programs, the Court highlights a collection of program resources that includes samples of Eviction Early Resolution Programs from both within Illinois and in other states (including Michigan and Texas).