ArchCity’s housing rights guide is the latest material designed to help an individual represent, defend, and advocate for themself in court. The majority of people facing eviction are “pro se,” meaning they represent themselves, and this legal information is part of ArchCity’s #ProSeSTL series.
May 18, 2021
ArchCity Defenders has published a 32-page illustrated guide entitled, “Representing Yourself When Facing Eviction,” which is intended to equip people with information on how to defend and represent themselves if their landlord files an eviction lawsuit against them. As regional courts begin to re-open, ArchCity wanted to be able to provide and distribute relevant resources in anticipation of an increase in eviction lawsuits and the region’s impending housing crisis.
“For the past year, far too many tenants have been in limbo and unable to get consistent and accurate information about what is happening in the courts,” said Jacki Langum, Director of Advocacy. “We hope the information in this guide will help tenants better understand their rights and help them navigate the eviction process.”
The housing pro se guide covers different types of eviction lawsuits, how to best prepare for court, tips for speaking with your landlord or their attorney, representing yourself at trial, and what options people have based on the possible outcomes in a case. Additionally, it includes some resources for utility and rental assistance, phone numbers and locations of local courts, a sample court summons, and a glossary of legal terms.
ArchCity Defenders authored the guide as part of the organization’s ongoing housing advocacy efforts. In the past year, thousands of St. Louisans have had to navigate stressful legal matters without attorneys, with limited legal knowledge, and while trying to figure out how to represent themselves over the phone or behind a screen. In the St. Louis region, as the local and federal eviction moratoriums are expiring, thousands of people are at risk of being evicted from their homes.
Data from Eviction Lab states 23,008 eviction cases have been filed against Missourians since March 15, 2020. Of the 6,573 regional filings, 3,949 were filed in St. Louis County and 2,624 were filed in St. Louis City. Black people, people of color, and low-income and working class people have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and by the eviction housing crisis.
The housing guide is available online for viewing, download, and print via www.ProSeSTL.org, a website managed by ArchCity Defenders. The guide is accessible in two formats: as a single-page document, and as a booklet, which is recommended for mass printing. ArchCity Defenders plans to distribute 1000 printed copies of the guides to the community, local organizations, and libraries. Noah Jodice, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, contributed the design and illustration.
ArchCity’s previous #ProSeSTL guides were first published in 2018 and relaunched in 2019 with updated information. The guides are entitled “A Guide to Knowing Your Rights With the Police and Getting Out of Jail,” and “A Guide to Representing Yourself in St. Louis Municipal Courts,” and can also be found online at www.ProSeSTL.org.