Tribal Court Appellate Case Makes Lasting Impact on Housing Evictions

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During the past year, Anishinabe Legal Services (ALS) has utilized tribal funding sources to undertake a major housing case on behalf of low-income tenants living in units managed by the White Earth Housing Authority.

The local Indian Housing Authority had a practice of boarding up housing units immediately upon certain suspected lease violations — a violation of the due process rights of many eviction defendants.  In this eviction case,  ALS lost the trial court decision, but staff attorney Steve Campbell immediately appealed. The Court decided to allow the client to occupy her unit until a decision on the appeal was made. This enabled the client, a single pregnant mother, to live in her home for several months until the Court of Appeals ultimately decided that the Housing Authority was required to file an action in Court to board up her unit. They also ruled that the client had not willingly violated the terms of her lease.  The Court ordered the client’s lease to be renewed, and her eviction overturned.  By this decision, several additional pending eviction cases were settled with favorable outcomes for tenants.  As a result, the Housing Authority is also reviewing their administrative policies.