Mayoral Musings: Courting Equality

One thing that the delivery of legal services in this country has in common with healthcare is the fact that too many individuals and families simply can’t afford it.

Op-Ed (New Jersey)

Albert B. Kelly
SNJ Today
August 15, 2019

Tags: Access to Justice, Housing: Eviction, Housing: Right to Counsel


Just looking at evictions, consider that the rates of eviction drop when a defendant has legal representation. According to J. Brian Charles, who wrote on the issue for the magazine Governing, a pilot project providing lawyers in a section New York City saw the rate of eviction drop 27 percent. In Philadelphia, it was estimated that a yearly investment of $3.2 million to provide counsel for those facing eviction would save the city some $45 million per year.

Such numbers certainly wouldn’t be as dramatic in Bridgeton were in 2016, there were 677 eviction filings. Cumberland County saw 3,003 filings that same year. Locally, I’m not judging if any single eviction filing was warranted nor am I making a value judgment about tenants and landlords. I am saying that eviction has serious consequences and if the courts are the forum to consider the monetary and business interests of the one side, then legal representation should be available or at least affordable to advocate for the interests of the other.