United Way of Central Maryland, Civil Justice, Inc. Officially Launch Program to Bring Access to Legal Representation to Baltimore City Residents Facing Eviction
Baltimore, MD (October 3, 2023) – United Way of Central Maryland in partnership with Civil Justice, Inc. and A2J Tech, officially launch their joint Access to Counsel in Evictions (ACE) coordinated intake system this week. Beginning today, the partners will be connecting Baltimore City residents in need of legal assistance with an eviction case to legal aid partners.
The ACE coordinated intake system removes the burden of tenants having to research and call multiple lawyers to represent them in rent court, as well as the cost burden, while pairing tenants with quality legal representation. Tenants can access help by calling 211 or applying online.
A study funded by the Abell Foundation for the Public Justice Center found that while 96 percent of landlords have legal representation during eviction proceedings, just one percent of tenants have legal representation. Of tenants without representation, 93 percent are displaced, while only eight percent of tenants with representation are displaced.
“An eviction notice is often one piece to a much larger puzzle,” said Elaine Pollack, 211 Maryland Helpline. “Our callers who are facing eviction are often also in need of workforce development, possibly food access, clothing, and more. Our call specialists are trained to identify needs, often beyond what a caller initially shares, with the goal of leading that caller to the programs they need to get back on their feet and create a stable life.”
The group was awarded a $4 million grant by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation last year to create this first-of-its-kind program in Maryland. Beginning with services offered to Baltimore City residents, where more than 140,000 evictions are filed each year, the program will later be rolled out in the surrounding area. Since its soft launch in May, the 211 ACE intake team has fielded 1,000 calls from tenants. Of those callers, hundreds were connected with legal providers.
“The plan is to continue to grow this project, beyond Baltimore City, and even beyond Central Maryland,” said Sarah John, Civil Justice, Inc. “United Way of Central Maryland has been an integral part of bringing this project to life. The 211 Maryland Helpline has greatly expanded the possibilities of this program because of their existing programs, and the adaptability they have to facilitate connecting callers with the services they need.”
“Baltimore has one of the highest eviction rates in the country,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “We have stood up programs like our Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention, Baltimore City Relocation and Family Stability programs to help combat this issue – but there is still so much work to be done. This partnership is a step in the right direction, and one piece of the puzzle to keeping families and individuals housed and stable in our region.”
In cities of comparable demographic and economic makeup like Atlanta, Georgia and Memphis, Tennessee, the eviction filing rate is 17 percent (or 17 evictions per 100 renter households.) In Baltimore City, the eviction filing rate is 115 percent (or 115 evictions per 100 renter households.)
The 211 ACE line is currently open for intake between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., with plans to extend hours in the coming months. The intake line is part of the 211 Helpline, a free, confidential service available 24/7/365 in more than 140 languages, which serves as the entry point to the program, directing callers to help through Civil Justice Inc. The Helpline will also provide additional supportive resources to callers.
For more information, or to access help, call 211, or apply online.
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United Way of Central Maryland helps the working poor and those in poverty access basic needs like housing, healthcare, jobs, and education. The nonprofit’s programs promote equity create opportunity and improve the lives of our neighbors and the neighborhoods they call home. For nearly 100 years, United Way has tackled the toughest challenges in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties. Learn more at uwcm.org
Civil Justice, Inc. is a non-profit providing legal services to Marylanders through a mix of in-house litigation and a statewide network of lawyers who share a commitment to increasing access to justice. Civil Justice is best known for promoting economic justice, serving homeowners in danger of foreclosure, and using technology to help Marylanders access the legal services they need. Learn more at civiljusticeinc.org.
A2J Tech is a social enterprise that builds user-centered solutions that improve access to justice. They provide a range of services that are tailored to the needs of organizations that serve low-income people. The A2J Tech team is made up of attorneys, software developers, human-centered designers, UX/UI designers, and project managers. Learn more at goa2jtech.com.