shows race, ethnicity, and gender statistics for CT-RTC clients compared to Connecticut’s overall population. CT-RTC clients This chart, prepared by an independent, Chicago-based consulting firm, shows that the Right to Counsel Program found evictees who applied for RTC representation were disproportionately African American or Black, Hispanic, and female compared to Connecticut’s overall population. Credit: From the report by Stout / Stout via CT RTC

The state’s Right To Counsel program, which allows those who meet income qualifications access to free legal representation in eviction proceedings, was not only successful in helping many tenants with avoiding eviction in 2022, but it also saved nearly $6 million in emergency shelter services and child welfare costs, program coordinators reported.

The report, which the Connecticut Bar Association Foundation released on Thursday, found that in 76% of cases where clients received full representation from the program, clients who wanted to avoid an eviction judgment were able to do so.

Stout, a Chicago-based firm, compiled the report that covers how the program performed between January 30, 2022, and November 30, 2022. Clients who stated their goal was to avoid an involuntary move did so in 71% of cases, and 71% were able to secure 30 days or more to move.

“Throughout 2022, the providers and their staff, in the face of significant challenges … have demonstrated notable commitment to implementing Connecticut’s historic eviction right to counsel, collecting data to enable a robust year 1 evaluation, and helping clients achieve their goals, and related housing stability, in an overwhelming majority of cases, nearly all of which involved significant complexities,” the report states.

The eviction process can be frightening for tenants, who may not be aware of their rights, housing advocates have said.

While evictions came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, those protections expired in early 2022, and eviction rates were expected to exceed 2019 levels by 20%, according to program coordinators. 

Eviction filings by housing authorities in 2022 exceeded those in 2020 and 2021, the report states, with filings increasing by 240% (179 filings to 608 filings).

The Right to Counsel (RTC) program has been implemented in 15 zip codes in Bridgeport, Danielson, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Putnam, Stamford, Waterbury, West Haven, and Willimantic – where 29% of 2022 evictions were filed, according to the report. 

In those zip codes, 14% of tenants facing evictions had legal representation, as opposed to 6% in the same area from 2017 to 2019, according to the report. 

In addition, consultants from Stout estimated that the program saved between $5.8 million and $6.3 million.

Stout also offered recommendations for the Right To Counsel program, including collecting client feedback, supporting the development of a Right to Counsel Tenant Advisory Council, working with the state’s Judicial Branch, and providing educational resources for both tenants and rental property owners.

Those who have questions about whether they qualify for a free lawyer to fight an eviction are encouraged to call 1-800-559-1565 or go to Tenants who meet income requirements in the 15 zip codes can get assistance once they receive a Notice to Quit or a notice of subsidy termination.