With the ending of the CDC Eviction Moratorium on July 31, 2021, local governments and their partners, such as county and state governments and community-based organizations, should be proactively thinking about how to increase resident’s awareness about eviction prevention programs through a coordinated approach.
With our world ever-changing amid an ongoing pandemic, it is important for local governments to put out consistent messaging on a weekly basis about resources and services available to help both tenants and landlords. By proactively increasing awareness about resources and services available, such as eviction diversion, emergency rental assistance, eviction mediation, legal assistance or right to counsel, eviction navigators and supportive services, local governments and partners can help to prevent evictions.
Moving forward, cities should look to deploy best practices from their communications team to identify communication and outreach strategies that proved to be effective when cities were challenged with bringing awareness about the pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccine availability and participation in Census 2020.
In the coming days and weeks, our recommendation on how cities can educate tenants and landlords about their eviction prevention programs and services include:
- Centering Equity and Lived Experience in Communication and Outreach Strategy
When determining the right approach to strategically inform residents, local governments should consider populations within their community who do not have access to traditional means of receiving information due to lack of broadband access. In addition, local governments should provide equitable and full access to eviction prevention resources to marginalized populations, including Black, Indigenous and households of color, people with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency and immigrants. Strategies to consider include paper-based communication materials, translating communication material (flyers, video clips and website, and/or social media posts) into multiple languages, having translators available for interpretation, providing closed captions/subtitles for video-related content, utilizing visual self-help posters.
- Implement Uniformed Messaging Across City Departments
Create uniform messaging for all resident-facing departments to utilize through talking points, flyers, door hangers, program brochures, updated e-mail signature and voicemails. This strategy will ensure that residents have multiple touchpoints throughout the city to receive this information and that the information provided is always current and consistent. Departments we recommend prioritizing include Housing, Community Development, Utilities, Neighborhood Services, Human Services, City Planning, Libraries and Parks & Recreation, as well as offices, commissions or boards serving special populations such as immigrants, multicultural affairs, tribal and indigenous communities.
- Increase Visibility Online
Ensure that information on your website about eviction prevention services is easily accessible for tenants and landlords. Consider placing this information in a highly visible area on your website such as the city’s homepage. Having this information in more than one place via a banner that links to a separate webpage is a great way to ensure you are reaching as many landlords and tenants as possible. It is also important to have consistent content on your city’s social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Nextdoor detailing how tenants and landlords can seek help to prevent evictions.
- Prepare and Educate Call and Contact Center Staff
Loop in your call or contact center, such as 311 or 211, to assist with answering questions related to eviction prevention services and resources available. Staff should be equipped with the latest information to ensure landlords and tenants are always well-informed. Also, consider updating your call or contact center’s webpage and mobile app with details related to services and resources available for eviction prevention.
- Utilize More Than Your City’s Website and Social Media Accounts
Do not limit your communication, outreach and engagement strategies to just the city’s website and social media accounts. Consider using emergency alerts (or text messages), news releases, the city’s government access channel, resident newsletter and postcards and mailers to reach tenants and landlords.
- Work with Trusted Community Partners
To reach a broader audience that may not be plugged into the city’s communication channels, work with trusted community influencers and community-based organizations such as a local radio or news station, food pantries, neighborhood associations or civic leagues, housing counseling offices or shelters. Consider building a coalition with local courts, legal aid or legal services, state and county government, tenant associations, landlord association, local colleges and universities. These organizations can assist with communicating the available resources for eviction prevention at either the local or state level.
- Go to the Residents!
Conduct neighborhood canvassing events, go to community events or host a community event for landlords and tenants. Have information available about eviction prevention in local recreation or resource centers, libraries, local courthouses, and legal aid offices. Work with neighborhood businesses in the area to get information to the residents. Have information available at vaccination sites. Partner with local faith-based organizations, churches, schools, summer enrichment or afterschool programs and social services.