Campbell University’s law school has joined a national initiative to address the housing and eviction crisis in response to the U.S. Attorney General’s Call to Action to the Legal Profession.
Along with Campbell Law, 98 other law schools in 35 states and Puerto Rico have committed to help prevent evictions. Over just a few months last year, law students across the country dedicated nearly 81,000 hours to provide legal assistance to households and communities across the country.
Campbell Law and other law schools are drawing on resources—such as pro bono and externship programs, clinical offerings and the service of the larger law school community—to help struggling families avoid eviction. They’re offering rental assistance application support, volunteering with legal aid providers, and helping courts implement eviction diversion programs, among other initiatives aimed at increasing housing stability and access to justice.
Campbell Law School Professor Ashley Campbell, director of the Blanchard Community Law Clinic, and Professor Tolu Adewale have been working closely with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Raleigh office to take landlord tenant cases pro bono this semester.
“The clinic will be representing clients in summary ejectment hearings in small claims court in Wake County,” Campbell said. “Professor Adewale and I handled landlord/tenant cases during our respective time at Legal Aid. In addition, all of our students in the clinic class are reading, ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’ by Matthew Desmond.”
On January 28, Attorney General Merrick Garland convened 99 law schools to take part in the initiative. “Five months ago, I asked the legal community to answer the call to help Americans facing eviction,” Garland said in a Zoom press conference. “Law students and lawyers from across the country stepped up to take on cases and assisted their clients and communities at a time when our country needed it the most. Today, our work is far from over, and making real the promise of equal justice under law remains our urgent and unfinished mission.”
During the press conference, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said, “The housing crisis is a poverty and economic security issue because of the long-lasting effects that we know evictions have on families. It’s a racial and gender justice issue because of the disproportionate effect the spike in evictions will have on women and people of color. That’s why I have encouraged courts to adopt eviction diversion as an essential tool for keeping people in their homes and landlords to access rental assistance during the pandemic.”
Garland’s call to action is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to help millions of families keep up on rent and remain in their homes. These efforts—along with the distribution of $25 to $30 billion distributed to more than 3 million households in need through the American Rescue Plan Emergency Rental Assistance program in 2021—has led to increased access to counsel and eviction diversion in jurisdictions across the country. It has also kept eviction filing rates below 60% of averages in a typical year.
“Eviction Lab data shows that in the four full months since the end of the eviction moratorium in August, eviction filings have remained below 60% of historical levels,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said. “The data shows that this program is working, keeping hundreds of thousands of families safely housed.”
This article has been edited and condensed from the original version appearing on the Campbell University website.