Three great stories we found on the internet this week.

Legal aid

As RTBC has reported, Philadelphia received praise in recent years for its Eviction Prevention Program, which mediates tenant-landlord disputes. Now, another effort to keep people in their homes has proven successful enough for the city to expand it to more neighborhoods: The Right to Counsel initiative gives free legal help to low-income renters facing eviction, on the premise that having an attorney can mean the difference between losing or keeping one’s home. 

“Often when tenants are not represented, they’re less likely to show up to court either through a sense of hopelessness or just not understanding the significance of the proceedings. And when they show up to court, they often just enter into whatever agreement feels most expedient or feels like they are going to be able to keep their home,” an attorney told WHYY.

Right to Counsel’s free lawyers often help tenants work out a payment plan for back rent, or just get a little more time before having to move. During the trial phase, 38 percent of participants had representation in court, compared with a citywide rate of about 20 percent. 

Read more at WHYY

Test drive

Denverites can soon rent themselves an EV experience. Rental car company Hertz will make more than 5,000 electric vehicles available to rent in the city with a “try-before-you-buy” marketing angle. 

Non-gas-guzzling automobiles are seen as critical to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. But while EV sales almost doubled from 2021 to 2022 in the US, they still only accounted for about five percent of all car purchases. The Hertz-Denver collaboration is being touted as a way to encourage more drivers to go electric.   

Hertz will also install dozens of public chargers around Denver and provide the city with GPS data on where the rented EVs roam. “Building out our EV charging infrastructure is a key component of our own EV adoption goals as a city, and this data will help inform on where that infrastructure will be needed the most,” a city spokesperson said. 

In another potential upside, Hertz will hire through the local Youth Employment Program for summer jobs, and support training at one technical high school’s auto certificate program.    

Read more at Bloomberg

By design

The vast majority of American Institute of Architects members today are white, but a few US universities are aiming to diversify the profession by engaging high school students. 

USC A-Lab cohort
USC A-Lab graduation. Credit: Screenshot from USC

At USC’s A-Lab, 11th graders from Los Angeles public schools study with faculty, drawing buildings where they live, making models and visiting architecture firms. The cohorts are typically majority Black and Hispanic. After a field trip to the firm of Ernesto M. Vasquez, who designs affordable housing and mixed-use buildings in underserved communities, one student said she was inspired to follow in his footsteps: “His family didn’t have anything [when he was young]. It made me see I can be like him one day.”

The high school partnership is just one element of USC’s diversity efforts for the architecture school, and they have made some progress. Between 2017 and 2022, the percentage of Black students went from 4.2 percent to 8 percent; the Latino population went from 15.4 percent to 26 percent.

Read more at Palabra