Stout was retained by the Philadelphia Bar Association to conduct an independent study regarding the costs and benefits to the City of Philadelphia if it were to provide attorneys to low-income tenants facing eviction. Stout concluded that the benefits associated with providing attorneys to low-income tenants far exceed the cost of providing attorneys.
The study found that the costs to the City of Philadelphia associated with displacement and disruption arising from eviction are abundant and can be disastrous to low-income families already struggling to make ends meet and seeking stability. Research demonstrates that the displacement and disruption arising from the eviction process leads to: job loss, poor performance in school for children, physical and mental health issues, increased city shelter and other emergency housing costs, increased administrative burden for courts, negative impacts on credit scores and the ability to re-rent, and the deterioration of communities when people must move away from their support systems.
The benefits of preventing tenants from experiencing displacement or disruption arising from eviction leads to: reductions in shelter costs, hospital costs (emergency room and inpatient), mental health costs, juvenile delinquency, and the number of eviction cases. Moreover, improvements related to tenant living conditions, court efficiencies, educational outcomes, community stability, confidence in the justice system, exercising of tenants' rights, and the preservation of affordable housing stock are also realized.
Stout estimated that the return on investment to the City of Philadelphia would be over $12 - that is, for every dollar Philadelphia spends on providing legal representation to low-income tenants, it will receive a benefit of more than $12.