Judge Murphy’s efforts to lessen the effects of the eviction crisis featured in White House hearing

Doorway to magistrate court, the court which conducts eviction hearingsEntrance to a Cobb County magistrate courtroom (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The efforts of Cobb County Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy to lessen the effects of the impending eviction crisis were featured in the Second White House Eviction Prevention Convening.

Murphy has played a major role in helping to match renters with resources they need to prevent eviction. He held a Rental Assistance Information Session in June of 2020 and was voted “2021 Workhorse of the Year” by Georgia’s Council of Magistrate Judges for his work on the eviction crisis brought on by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cobb County website described Murphy’s testimony at the convening as follows:

The White House highlighted Cobb County’s efforts to avoid an eviction crisis in this county during a live webinar held last week.  Cobb Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy appeared on the webinar to talk about the court’s program to get those in danger of eviction in contact with agencies offering rental assistance.

To watch Judge Murphy’s part of the webinar visit https://youtu.be/AedcPrpqpUY?t=4637

Cobb’s programs are making a national impact!

White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling introduced Judge Murphy and Judge Rachel Bell of Davison County, Tennessee (Nashville).

Bell talked about the strategy in Nashville of setting up an Eviction Diversionary Court to work with landlords and tenants to encourage negotiated alternatives to eviction. She said the program had helped 1,200 people avoid eviction.

Murphy described the effort in Cobb County to match both tenants and landlords with resources to avoid the eviction of the tenant.

“We’re a community of just under 800,000 people right outside of Atlanta,” Murphy said. “Even pre-pandemic, our community saw approximately 20,000 eviction filings in our court each year.”

“For our program, like many of you, the gold standard is to apply for assistance before an eviction is ever filed,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the challenge was how to reach people most at risk of eviction. One thing the court did was include a packet with each eviction notice with information on how to apply for rental assistance.

“We gave landlords information on how to apply for rental assistance when they came to file an eviction, to see if they would consider applying for the assistance before even filing the eviction,” Murphy said. “And then court notices that are sent to both parties were also modified in case folks missed it the first time.”

“But once a case gets to court, court-based rental assistance is absolutely critical,” he said. “That’s what both sides have told us.”

“Here in Cobb County, we consider that to be the safety net for the safety net, to make sure that even if you haven’t heard of the program, even if you haven’t had an opportunity to apply, you will have that opportunity at the very last minute before an eviction goes through,” Murphy said. “We’re thankful to our Chairwoman here Lisa Cupid and the Board of Commissioners for their foresight in accepting the ERA1 funding and appropriating that to five rental assistance providers across Cobb County.”

Murphy said that the eviction process in Georgia is incredibly fast, and is faster than rental assistance programs can ever hope to operate.

Watch the Second White House Eviction Prevention Convening

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