Pisgah Legal’s Merrell fights for affordable housing

Robin Merrell, a self-proclaimed poor girl from Brushy Creek in Madison County, was the first in her family to graduate from college. She went on to law school, but her homegrown values would shape her choice of career.
Feature (North Carolina)

Dave Neal
Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
December 24, 2015

Tags: Housing

Organizations mentioned/involved: Pisgah Legal Services (PLS) (North Carolina)


For the past 15 years, Merrell, 40, has hung her shingle at Pisgah Legal Services. For the last nine years as managing attorney, she’s headed the nonprofit law firm’s 50 staffers, advocating for the working poor and others who need but often can’t afford legal representation.

“It’s hard to imagine doing anything else,” she said.

That need is only growing. Last year, Pisgah Legal served some 14,000 clients. About a third of the caseload relates to housing and rental disputes, from substandard housing to evictions. Merrell expects the caseload to grow to 15,000 in the coming year.

The year 2015 saw affordable housing become an increasing part of Asheville’s conversation, and Pisgah Legal plays a role in the discussion, Merrell said.