How Free Legal Help Can Prevent Evictions

In much of the country, more and more renters are devoting larger and larger portions of their income to rent. For low-income families, this can push them further into poverty and put them at risk for being evicted — and becoming homeless.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Teresa Wiltz
October 27, 2017

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel, Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: Impact Center for Public Interest Law (NY), National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC), Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF)


Evictions destabilize families, forcing them into poorer neighborhoods with higher crime rates. And evictions cost cities money: After a family is evicted, a city can end up losing thousands of dollars in property taxes and unpaid utility bills, and may have to bear increased costs from homeless shelters and hospitals.

To address the problem, some cities are trying a new tactic: provide tenants with free legal counsel in housing court. In eviction proceedings, the vast majority of landlords, 85 to 90 percent in some housing courts, show up to court with a lawyer, while tenants often face eviction without legal counsel.