Public Justice Center (PJC)

Works with people and communities to confront the laws, practices, and institutions that cause injustice, poverty, and discrimination.
Organization website

Primary geographic focus: NATIONAL
Organization type(s): Research/Policy/Organizing
Acronym or short name: PJC

The Public Justice Center works with people and communities to confront the laws, practices, and institutions that cause injustice, poverty, and discrimination. We advocate in the courts, legislatures, and government agencies, educate the public, and build coalitions, all to advance our mission of “pursuing systemic change to build a just society.”



Welcome to the Courtroom That Is Every Renter’s Nightmare

Rachel M. Cohen
September 14, 2015
Originally created to provide a nationwide model of justice, Baltimore’s housing court today serves as little more than a state-run rent collection agency, financed by taxpayers and the beleaguered renters themselves who pay court fees for each judgment ruled against them.

News Story

Baltimore Renters Turn to Judge Judy to Navigate Eviction Flood

Patrick Clark
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 7, 2015
"Rent court'' is a Baltimore institution where landlords try to force tenants to pay up or get out. It may also be a good place to gauge how America’s urban poor are faring in the face of affordable housing shortages and rampant gentrification. The answer is not good.

News Story

Baltimore eviction rate among highest in country, study says

Luke Broadwater
Baltimore Sun
December 7, 2015
Every year in Baltimore, more than 6,000 renters and their families are evicted from their homes — forced into court proceedings at a higher rate than any other major American city except Detroit, according to a new study from the Public Justice Center.

News Story

There’s An Eviction Epidemic In Baltimore, And The Deck Is Stacked Against Renters

Bryce Covert
December 7, 2015
As a new report from civil legal aid group Public Justice Center outlines, Baltimore’s “rent court” processes 150,000 landlord-tenant cases a year, more than half of all of the filings in its District Court system. That averages out to more than 600 rent complaints a day.


Out of house and home

Baltimore Sun
December 7, 2015
Maryland's legal system is stacked against renters in landlord-tenant disputes says the Baltimore Sun.

News Story

Baltimore Rent Eviction Crisis: City Overrun By Corrupt Landlords, Study Finds

Aaron Morrison
International Business Times (IB Times)
December 7, 2015
The Charm City's eviction rate emerged from a study by the local Public Justice Center and the Right for Housing Alliance. Among them, 78 percent reported having one or more health or safety threats existing in their homes at the time of their eviction hearing.

Audio , News Story

Baltimore’s Rent Court: How Fairly Is It Functioning?

WYPR (local NPR, Baltimore)
December 7, 2015
Today, the Public Justice Center is releasing a report that indicates there are often serious, systemic problems between renters and landlords.

News Story

Landlords Have an Edge in Eviction Cases. They Can Afford Lawyers, and Low-Income Renters Can’t.

Jake Blumgart
December 8, 2015
A study released Monday by the Public Justice Center, a civil legal-aid organization, reveals that the outcomes in Baltimore’s “Rent Court” are predictably one-sided.

News Story

Baltimore’s rent court accused of bias towards landlords

Mike Wheatley
Realty Biz News
December 10, 2015
In many cases, Baltimore's infamous Rent Court favors the landlords, and it has an eviction rate that’s higher than any other major city except for Detroit, reported the Baltimore Sun this week.

News Story

Activists rally for ‘Rent Court’ reform amid thousands of Baltimore evictions

Luke Broadwater
Baltimore Sun
December 9, 2015
Dozens of people rallied Tuesday in downtown Baltimore, calling for reform to a system that they say unfairly threatens thousands of families with quick evictions annually.

News Story

Baltimore Can’t Rely on “Judge Judy” to Protect Renters

Rachel M. Cohen
December 9, 2015
While it’s been all too easy for Baltimore officials to chalk this grim reality up to the wretched effects of poverty, a new report tells a more complete story.

Blog Post

Baltimore Eviction Rate among Highest in Country: A Study of Rent Court

Spencer Wells
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
December 10, 2015
The injustice and social cost of eviction is slowly making its way to the attention of mass media as activist groups around the country focus attention on archaic legal systems through which property owners control rental housing.

News Story

3 Reasons Baltimore Is The Perfect Place For Bernie Sanders To Discuss Housing Inequality

Julia Craven
Huffington Post
December 10, 2015
Since 2012, more than 6,800 renters and their families have been evicted annually in the city, according to a report from the Public Justice Center released this month.

News Story

Rigged System: Report Finds Baltimore is a National Leader in Evictions, as 7,000 Households, Overwhelmingly Black, Are Thrown out on the Street Each Year

David Love
Atlanta Black Star
December 13, 2015
A report by the Public Justice Center, a civil legal aid organization, sounds the alarm on the problem of evictions, which are experienced primarily by Black residents, namely Black women.

News Story

NEWS ROUNDUP: Baltimore Becomes National Leader In Evictions, “Huck Finn” Removed From Philadelphia School…AND MORE
December 14, 2015
A new study released by the Public Justice Center, titled Justice Diverted: How Renters Are Processed in the Baltimore City Rent Court, revealed that nearly 7,000 families are evicted in Baltimore every year.

News Story

How Making Eviction Easier Became a Hot New Industry

Patrick Clark
February 23, 2016
The high eviction volume has led to an industry that makes eviction easier. But this is hurting low-income communities across the country.

News Story

States look to provide lawyers for the poor in civil cases

Dave Collins
Associated Press (AP)
March 30, 2016
More than two dozen bills being considered in 18 states this year would provide public defenders or private lawyers at state expense for low-income people in certain civil cases.

Audio , Feature

In A High-Rent World, Affordable And Safe Housing Is Hard To Come By

Pam Fessler
National Public Radio (NPR)
March 30, 2016
Most tenants who fail to pay rent and are taken to court have no legal representation while most landlords do.

News Story

Maryland judges differ on ‘what is rent?’

Doug Donovan
Baltimore Sun
September 29, 2016
An opinion by the state's highest court this year is upending that tradition by doing what Maryland's real estate statute does not: defining "rent."

News Story

Lawmakers seek legal aid for tenants facing eviction in Baltimore

Doug Donovan
Baltimore Sun
July 3, 2017
Del. Sandy Rosenberg and Baltimore City Councilman Robert Stokes, both Democrats, hope their efforts can generate momentum for an issue that has stalled in Maryland while gaining traction across the nation.

News Story

Hate Your Shady Landlord? Here’s Something to Celebrate

David Dayen
August 23, 2017
Cities across America are taking steps to help low-income people get lawyers to fight eviction in court.

News Story

Baltimore’s ‘Kushnerville’ Tenants File Class Action Against Landlord

Alec McGillis
September 27, 2017
Tenants allege that a property management firm controlled by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s real-estate company has unjustly charged them fees and threatened eviction to make them pay up.

News Story

Baltimore court expands tenant aid in housing cases

Doug Donovan
Baltimore Sun
January 4, 2018
The navigator program is among several initiatives launched last year by the Maryland Judiciary to address that inequity in the busy district court downtown, where nearly 151,000 landlord-tenant cases are processed each year in Baltimore.


Behind the minimum wage fight, a sweeping failure to enforce the law

Marianne LeVine
February 18, 2018
Raising hourly pay is a rallying cry for 2018, but states often fail to get workers the money that’s owed them.

News Story

Attorneys: Social Services again illegally keeping Baltimore foster children overnight in offices

Tim Prudente
Baltimore Sun
September 4, 2018
State law requires foster children sleep in a licensed facility, but the agency’s offices are not licensed. Such a sleeping arrangement is forbidden by the 1988 consent decree that resulted from the ongoing class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of the children.

News Story

Right to an Attorney? Most Tenants Face Landlords Without One.

J. Brian Charles
June 1, 2019
But a handful of cities are starting to provide counsel in civil court.


Water is a basic human right, Baltimore

Zafar Shah, Matt Hill
Baltimore Sun
April 9, 2015
Op-ed arguing against Baltimore's water shut-off plans.

News Story

Housing: The Other Civil Rights Movement

Victoria Bekiempis
December 11, 2014
As protests against police misconduct rage on, another civil rights movement is quietly gaining momentum: The right to counsel in eviction proceedings.

This page last modified: Thu, April 16, 2015 -- 5:58 pm ET