COVID Shows Why We Need Legal Aid for Civil Cases Like Evictions: Rep. Joe Kennedy

August 7, 2020

In Massachusetts alone, well over 100,000 households are at risk of being evicted when our state’s eviction moratorium ends, more than twice the number of local households evicted in the years following the Great Recession.

With Black and Latinx people twice as likely to rent than their white neighbors, the minute eviction moratoriums are lifted, they will be the ones hardest hit. In Virginia, even after controlling for poverty and income rates, roughly 60% of Black neighborhoods have an annual eviction rate higher than 10%. 

The horrifying reality is that we are not just facing an eviction crisis: We are confronting multiple system failures regarding housing, food, health, safety, and the legal rights that protect those most basic human needs. 

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is actively putting justice further out of reach for low-income Americans. From his earliest days in office, he made it his mission to eliminate our greatest national legal aid provider, the Legal Services Corporation.

The Access to Legal Aid Caucus that I chair has undertaken a bipartisan effort to increase LSC funding by over $100 million in the past six years, including $50 million in the CARES Act passed in March.

We can avoid an avalanche of evictions and the cascading injustices that follow the loss of a home. We can avoid the generational trauma of families that are denied a place to call their own. We can avoid the mistakes we made the last time our economy shattered — when we bailed out banks and industry but left workers and their families to stand alone.

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