News Story

Anti-eviction advocacy group in Detroit due to get $20M from taxpayers

State budget provides $2.5M; the rest comes from federal budget

The Detroit Right To Counsel Coalition is getting $2.5 million in funding from Michigan taxpayers in the 2024 state budget. The grant is one of many earmarks in the state budget that bypassed the usual appropriations process.

“Housing is a human right,” the organization’s website reads. The coalition calls for using public funds to defend that right. “We fight for the right to free legal representation when facing eviction.” As the “about” section of the website states, “A right to counsel would require city government to fund legal representation for tenants facing eviction.”

Detroit’s ordinance, enacted in 2022, establishes a program to give legal aid to tenants. It also limited the city to using using state or federal fund until 2027, at which point it may use its own funds.

The coaltion expects to receive $20 million in taxpayer funds, it announced in a Facebook posted dated July 23, 2023. “Detroit is funding the legal aid program for three years with $18 million in federal pandemic relief. The state allocation raises the total budget to $20.5 million. Attorney Tonya Myers Phillips, project leader for the Detroit Right to Counsel Coalition, thanked state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield for their work to secure the funding.” The coalition’s website notes that seven major cities in the country have a “right to counsel” ordinance.

A search on the ProPublica website for the organization’s Form 990, which many nonprofits file with the IRS, yielded no results.

Various legislators in Michigan have introduced bills this term to increase regulations on landlords. These include measures to restrict the use of credit histories in rental applications and rent control on mobile home parks.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.