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UCHC Affordable Housing Journal

Distinctly Detroit stories with a focus on homelessness prevention.

The Right to Counsel (RTC) Program

By: UCHC Staff

Published: March 25, 2024

Responding to the City of Detroit’s historic Right to Counsel legislation, United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) joined forces with Michigan Legal Services (MLS), Lakeshore Legal Aid (LLA), and Legal Aid and Defender Association (LADA) to launch the Right to Counsel program, a transformative initiative aimed at ultimately ensuring that low-income residents facing eviction have access to legal representation. This partnership marks a significant step towards fostering housing stability, empowering tenants and land contract buyers, and creating a more equitable Detroit.

PSA - City of Detroit, Office of Eviction Defense, Right to Counsel | Ted Phillips, Executive Director of United Community Housing Coalition speaks on the organization's involvement in the Right to Counsel movement in Detroit. The video discusses a land contract case and a subsidized rent case.

Legal Representation Impact through Right to Counsel

The Right to Counsel program, championed by UCHC, recognizes the importance of legal representation in eviction cases. Too often, tenants and land contract buyers find themselves navigating complex legal processes without the support they need, leading to unjust outcomes and exacerbating the city's housing crisis. The RTC initiative seeks to level the playing field by providing eligible tenants and land contract holders facing eviction with legal representation at no cost.

UCHC's partnership with the City of Detroit exemplifies the collaborative spirit required to address the multifaceted housing challenges of low-income residents. By combining resources and expertise, this alliance strengthens the city's commitment to protecting its residents from the devastating impacts of eviction.

"The Right to Counsel in the City of Detroit means that a tenant or other person facing an eviction in 36th District Court who is at or below 200% of the area poverty level has a right to obtain free counsel for representation to avoid an eviction." - Ted Phillips, Executive Director of UCHC

Right to Counsel Goal? Empowering Tenants

The primary goals of the Right to Counsel program are to prevent evictions, improve housing conditions, protect tenant records, and provide for long term sustainability of housing by protecting subsidies. Legal representation can make a crucial difference in the outcome of eviction cases, preventing homelessness and preserving the stability of Detroit communities.

The ripple effects of the Right to Counsel program extend beyond individual cases. By preventing unjust evictions, the initiative contributes to the overall well-being of Detroit neighborhoods. Stable housing is the cornerstone of vibrant communities, and UCHC's efforts are a testament to the organization's commitment to fostering a more resilient and equitable city.

"Without this kind of service, I would be intimidated."

The partnership between United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC), Michigan Legal Services (MLS), Lakeshore Legal Aid (LLA), Legal Aid and Defender Association (LADA) and the City of Detroit on the Right to Counsel program marks a significant milestone in the fight against homelessness and housing instability. By empowering tenants and land contract buyers with legal representation, this initiative not only safeguards individual rights but also contributes to the overall well-being of Detroit's communities. As we witness this collaborative effort unfold, it becomes clear that a united front is essential in addressing the complex housing challenges of low-income Detroit residents, and creating a city that is truly for everyone.


At UCHC, we believe that housing is a human right, and we know you do, too. Your generous support helps us keep our low-income neighbors safe and secure in their homes throughout the year.

Help Support UCHC with a donation today!

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