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United Way of Central Maryland, Civil Justice, Inc. Partner to Bring Access to Legal Representation to Baltimore City Residents Facing Eviction

Grant awarded by Maryland Legal Services Corporation to provide funding over the course of four years

Baltimore, MD (October 11, 2022) – United Way of Central Maryland has partnered with Civil Justice, Inc. to bring access to legal representation to Baltimore area residents over the course of the next four years. The group was awarded a $4 million grant by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation to create a first-of-its-kind initiative in Maryland that will address the need among residents facing eviction for legal representation.

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.

Over the course of the pilot and program, Civil Justice Inc., United Way of Central Maryland, and A2J Tech will develop a referral system to quickly and efficiently process program referrals and applications, and match tenants with legal service providers. The program will first be piloted in Baltimore City, where there are more than 140,000 eviction filings each year, but only 125,000 rental units.

“Baltimore has one of the highest eviction rates in the country,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Our Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention (STEP), Baltimore City Relocation, and Family Stability programs are critical tools that enable us to keep people across Greater Baltimore housed. This new partnership aligns with and will drive our work to ensure that those in need have a safe, affordable place to call home.”

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 households).

“The housing disparity between our city and others like it when it comes to housing is unacceptable,” Baker added. “This new program will bring access to legal assistance to residents who would otherwise have to represent themselves in court. The cost of legal representation is on average about $1,000—an expense that the overwhelming majority of tenants facing eviction simply cannot afford. This program will break down financial barriers for those on the brink of losing their homes.”

The program 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. The 211 Maryland United Way Helpline, a free, confidential service available 24/7/365 in more than 140 languages, will serve 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.

“Often, the prospect of losing housing is just one symptom of economic instability in a household,” Baker added. “In fact, a survey of our STEP program recipients revealed that 73 percent indicated they needed other assistance to help them achieve economic stability. In addition to providing legal representation for tenants, the 211 Helpline addresses callers’ needs holistically, directing them to programs and resources like food access, utility assistance, job training and more.”

“Civil Justice is proud to work alongside the United Way of Central Maryland and A2J Tech to transform how Marylanders in danger of eviction access legal services,” said Sarah Coffey Bowes Executive Director.


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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


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.