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Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White and At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds introduced a bill on Tuesday that would establish guidelines for the storage and removal of evicted tenants’ property. The Eviction With Dignity Act directs landlords to store the belongings of an evicted tenant in the vacated unit for 10 days, after which the landlord can remove those belongings.
City Paperreported last week that the U.S. Marshals Service, the law enforcement body responsible for scheduling and overseeing evictions in D.C., plans to make significant changes to eviction proceedings in D.C. That includes a policy prohibiting marshals from specifically directing landlords to move tenant property out onto the street or sidewalk during an eviction, a longtime point of humiliation for tenants being removed from their homes.
A review conducted last fall of the agency’s practices concluded that many of them “have been done through force of tradition for decades” but aren’t required by law, according to a D.C. official familiar with the marshals’ review.
Marshals initially reached out to the office of judiciary committee chair and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, giving the Council an opportunity to introduce a bill that could address legal challenges associated with the marshals’ planned changes. Allen co-sponsored White and Bonds’s bill, along with Councilmembers Mary Cheh, David Grosso, Vincent Gray, Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Kenyan McDuffie, Elissa Silverman, and Robert White.
USMS spokesman Robert Brandt added that the service will also overhaul its scheduling and notification system, sending tenants a specific eviction date by mail after USMS schedules them, giving tenants a longer lead time to prepare for eviction. He said the service plans on implementing both of those changes this summer.