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University of Idaho College of Law starts law clinic to help with eviction cases

Official legal eviction order or notice to renter or tenant of home with face mask
BackyardProduction/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Idaho must make preventing homelessness a priority or our current housing crisis will only get worse, writes Jesse Tree executive director Ali Rabe. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

The University of Idaho College of Law has started a Housing Law Clinic in partnership with local nonprofit Jesse Tree to help landlords and tenants with legal, social and financial support to prevent evictions across the Treasure Valley, according to a press release.

Jesse Tree, a Boise nonprofit focused on homelessness prevention, has worked with legal interns from the College of Law over the past year, the release stated. The interns contact landlords and tenants prior to court dates, participate in mediation sessions and offer rental assistance from Jesse Tree to help resolve eviction cases. According to the release, Jesse Tree staff and the university interns have assisted more than 60 households in eviction court.

The Housing Law Clinic builds on the existing program with five law students who have earned limited license to practice and are able to represent clients with supervision from clinical faculty. During the fall semester, the third-year law students participated in outreach efforts, attended court proceedings with settlement authority to resolve disputes and mediated cases to help prevent evictions in Ada and Canyon counties, the release said. Students also represent clients in eviction-related court proceedings.

“For our students, this collaboration provides the opportunity to put their legal education into practice by attending eviction court proceedings and even mediating cases,” clinic supervisor Jason Dykstra said in the release. “Our students have already had a positive impact on many households faced with eviction.”

Despite the federal eviction moratorium that was in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic from September 2020 to August 2021, more than 800 eviction hearings took place in Ada and Canyon county courts over that period, according to the release. More than 200 hearings have been held in the Treasure Valley since the moratorium ended in August.

“The needs in eviction court are great right now, and we anticipate even more demand throughout this winter,” Jesse Tree Executive Director Ali Rabe said in the release. “Our collaboration with the Housing Law Clinic helps boost Jesse Tree’s ability to serve more families with social, legal and financial support in court (and) couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.