Landlords & Tenants

Volunteer legal work needed for pending evictions crisis, says ABA president

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COVID-19 eviction concept

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Millions of households are behind on their rent and think they will be evicted in the next few months, wrote U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in an Aug. 30 letter to the legal community calling for volunteer services.

The American Bar Association supports his efforts, said ABA President Reginald M. Turner Jr. in a statement released Monday.

The communication follows the U.S. Supreme Court blocking a federal ban Aug. 27 on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With volunteer actions, individual lawyers and law students can make an enormous difference in ensuring access to justice and minimizing the impact of evictions on individuals, families and communities, as well as landlords, during this critical time,” said Turner, a lawyer with Clark Hill in Detroit.

His statement follows a June announcement that the ABA is working with the White House on an initiative to protect renters and homeowners who remain affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic instability.

Citing a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey, Garland wrote that more than 6 million households reported being behind on their rent, and more than 3 million who were behind on rent believed they would be evicted in the next two months.

He asked lawyers and law students to help applicants access the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program and assist local courts in implementing eviction diversion programs, as well as volunteer with legal aid providers. The letter includes a link to a National Center for State Courts website with a map of legal aid groups that handle eviction cases.

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