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Evicting Victims: Reforming St. Louis’s Nuisance Ordinance for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Nuisance ordinances, established in municipalities nationwide to ostensibly protect the well-being of residents, threaten property owners with fines and jail time if they fail to abate a nuisance occurring on their property. Rather than promoting conflict resolution, such punitive consequences incentivize landlords to simply evict the tenants causing the nuisance. The enforcement of nuisance ordinances can have detrimental and disproportionate effects on already vulnerable populations, including tenants in domestic violence situations. The City of St. Louis employs a chronic nuisance ordinance, which is based in part on the number of police calls to a property. This ordinance can force survivors of domestic violence to choose between not reporting abuse to avoid homelessness or risking eviction to get the police assistance required to protect their safety. This brief offers four policy suggestions to mitigate such negative effects.

Citation

Kantor, N., & Metzger, M. W. (2015, September). Evicting victims: Reforming St. Louis’s nuisance ordinance for survivors of domestic violence (CSD Policy Brief No. 15-47). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.