ABA leader prioritizes action on U.S. eviction crisis

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With federal and local eviction moratoriums nationwide expiring, American Bar Association President Reginald M. Turner issued a call to the legal community nationwide to respond to the approaching housing crisis.

The ABA continues taking steps to ensure access to justice and minimize the impact of evictions on individuals, families and communities.

Helping renters and property owners is especially needed at this time, Turner said in hisrecent statement.

“Join with state and local bar associations, volunteer with legal aid organizations and law school aid clinics, help state and local agencies with eviction diversion programs and work with struggling families and landlords. Every effort — large or small — will be meaningful.”

Turner’s appeal supports a call to action from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, in which he urged crisis assistance by the legal community, pointing out that more than 3 million households that are behind on rental payments expect to be evicted in the next two months.

Struggling Americans have legitimate reasons for their anxiety. On Aug. 27, the Supreme Court struck down a national ban on most evictions. At the same time, only 11% of $47 billion in federal assistance aimed at helping renters and property owners has been disbursed, according to the Treasury Department.

The ABA has already taken steps to ensure access to justice and minimize the impact of evictions on individuals, families and communities, as well as landlords.

The association frequently lobbied Congress for emergency assistance for both renters and landlords and for a federal eviction moratorium and contacted state bars and judicial conferences about the crisis. It also commissioned a study of eviction diversion programs and collaborated with the White House to facilitate a Summit on Eviction Prevention.

Over the past year, the ABA Task Force on Legal Needs Arising from the Coronavirus Pandemic and its Eviction Committee leveraged association resources to help prevent evictions. The ABA’s new Task Force on Eviction, Housing Stability and Equity will advance housing stability and equity in the nation.

The ABA also worked with state and local bars to establish ABA Free Legal Answers (https://abafreelegalanswers.org), a virtual pro bono clinic. Since March 2020, more than 2,600 volunteer attorneys have registered to answer state-specific questions, including queries from renters and landlords on eviction issues.

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