In late April 2018, Daniel Bernal and Margaret Hagan taught the first part of the pop-up Design For Justice: Eviction. The class focused on how we might better empower people who have received eviction notices (specifically, in Arizona) to know their rights, their options, and to go to court to fight eviction. Read more about the motivation and background for the class, in Daniel’s November 2018 article in Stanford Lawyer: “Eviction and the Promise of Self-Help Technologies.”

Want to read more about Eviction System design and improvements? Come visit our Eviction Innovation Map + Reading List, where we are compiling a strategic blueprint and ongoing resources about how to address key dysfunctions of eviction in America. This Innovation Map spans this April 2018 class, our Winter/Spring 2019 Justice + Poverty Innovation class, and our Autumn 2019 class on Design for Justice: Housing Court.

In the class, our 2 teams focused on what intervention we might send in the mail to activate someone right after they have received an eviction notice, and what intervention we might point them to for greater support and guidance.

This class resulted in a number of prototypes moving forward to pilot in Pima County, Arizona, in partnership with local court and legal aid groups. We are running a randomized control trial to see if the interventions are effective at getting more tenants to come to court.

  • We built a self-help website for tenants to learn their rights and prepare for court.
  • We designed and are distributing a new Know Your Rights flyer for those who have received an eviction notice, to encourage them to attend court through behavioral nudges and referrals to legal help.
  • We have a text message reminder system to send coaching and reminder updates to tenants, about their upcoming eviction hearing.

We are now expanding the project beyond Arizona. We are working with the Clerk of Courts in Hamilton County, Ohio — where Cincinnati is. There, we will replicate the suite of interventions we created in Pima County, and we are also working with the court to change the notices it sends to litigants — to make these Eviction Summons and documents more clear, actionable, and likely to get people to come to court.

What we did in the class

We worked in 2 phases. First, we did a recap of key insights, personas, players, and trends regarding the eviction process, user experience, and legal help resources in Arizona. We did this with calls to Arizona legal help leaders, a service designer who has been working on eviction help, and Daniel’s presentations on his research into eviction trends and strategies in Arizona.

Our second phase of work was brainstorming and prototyping. Our 2 teams focused on the different intervention points, to create an Idea Catalogue of possible ways to empower users through a mailer or a digital resource.

From this brainstorm, we critiqued the ideas with some help from our service and system designers from technology companies. We wrote these ideas, formalize them slightly, and invite a panel of legal, sociology, behavior change, technology, and design experts to receive further feedback. From there, we began to develop first versions of several of the concepts that we will test with the public in our second half of the class.

Before part 2 of the class, our Lab’s software developer Metin Eskili, our designer Carolyn, and Daniel Bernal created more refined versions of:

  1. Envelopes that would be sent to people who had received eviction notices
  2. Fliers inside the envelopes that would direct people to the website and encourage attendance at eviction hearings
  3. A web application that would orient people in what to expect, get them text reminders, and help them see what defenses our counterclaims they might have.

Class, part 2: Testing and Co-Design

In our second part of the class, we invited community members to visit us, review our ideas, and help us choose among different envelope, notice, and web app designs. The goal was to have input before finalizing the paper and application design.



Survey Review

After our testing, we ran a survey review with law students. They helped us to refine the evaluation of the Self-Help website, before putting the instrument and site up for online testing.

We used their recommendations and ideas to refine the website, and the testing instrument.