PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. — Bridging the tenant/landlord communication gap is what a newly launched website hopes to do. University of Arizona law students helped develop this free resource.
According to EvictionLab.org, more than two-million people in the U.S. were evicted from their homes in 2016. Tucson was a top-evicting area, coming in at number 25.
To decrease these numbers, law students from the UA and BYU, and a law group called Sixfifty, developed Hello Landlord. Its a nationwide tool that aims to help tenants communicate with landlords about issues that can lead to eviction.
Having gone through a foreclosure with his family, this was a project that hit home for UA graduate, Antonio Coronado, when helping develop the service.
"Its not just, like, why is this happening? Its also how is this happening? Like, who are the stakeholders in this. What is the landscape that is creating these problems. So this is definitely a first step in bridging some of those issues in bettering that relationship so that folks are not intimidated in reaching out," said Coronado.
"Formally we know that they are about 13,000 evictions a year in Pima County, but those are the ones that make it into the court process. So we don't know how many don't make it to the court process. Some people think it might be two or three times that number," said Bonnie Bazata, the manager of the Pima County MAMA Program.
Created as an online de-escalation tool, Bazata said Hello Landlord is a crucial resource that is needed in the county and the nation.
"If people don't have access to easily generate a letter on a computer, is this the right language and how do I phrase this? All of that becomes barriers that are knocked down by this website," said Bazata.
UA law students used Pima County's MAMA Program to help gain a better understanding of the tenant-perspective.
"So the students were able to get first-hand information on what was it like to go through an eviction. 'What do you wish had been there that wasn't there for you at that time?'" said Bazata.
The students also spoke with landlords.
"We found that folks were lease likely to evict it they knew that their tenant or families were wanting to have that open communication from the beginning to say, 'Hey I can't pay rent, but I can do this,'" said Coronado.
Hello Landlord is available for free and is in both English and Spanish.