The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) released a brief that showcases the critical role of pro bono attorneys in eviction defense. The findings are part of a congressionally-directed study, The Effect of State & Local Laws on Evictions, to investigate the unmet legal needs surrounding the eviction crisis in the United States.
About one-in-three renter households will experience a housing-related civil legal problem such as eviction in a year, but the vast majority will receive little or no help in navigating their legal issues. Currently, family law cases get much more support from pro bono attorneys than housing cases, even though rental-related issues are one of the most common civil legal problems.
Nationally, landlords are four times more likely to be represented in eviction cases than tenants.
Better leveraging pro bono services for tenants facing eviction is essential to addressing the eviction crisis. Without representation, most tenants will lose their cases and face eviction. However, access to representation flips the odds, with a large majority of tenants who receive legal services able to delay or avoid eviction.
The brief highlights effective pro bono eviction defense projects developed by legal aid organizations and their partners, describes model practices focused on tenant-centered solutions and explores the challenges associated with project implementation.
The innovative pro bono eviction defense programs profiled in the brief include:
Legal Action of Wisconsin’s Eviction Defense Project
Legal Services Vermont’s Pro Bono Clinic Project
Legal Services of Hudson Valley’s Housing Court and Homelessness Prevention Project
in New York
Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Eviction Defense Project
in Maine, and
Volunteer Lawyers Network’s Housing Law Program
To learn more about each model program and the challenges pro bono attorneys face in eviction cases, read the full brief here.
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.