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Mayor Signs Bill Guaranteeing Lawyers For Renters Facing Eviction

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CREDIT AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY
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Mayor Jack Young has signed a bill into law guaranteeing lawyers for renters facing eviction, making Baltimore the seventh jurisdiction in the country to enact such legislation.

The bill, which the City Council passed unanimously in November, will be phased in over four years.

Charisse Lue, an attorney at the Public Justice Center, which  advocated for the bill, said 80% of renters who face eviction have a viable defense for keeping their homes, but that only 1% of renters who face eviction get lawyers.

“We’re just looking forward to doing this,” she said. “This is an important step towards building affordable housing and stabilizing housing here in Baltimore City and climbing out of this COVID crisis.”

Lue estimates that it will cost $6.8 million annually to provide lawyers to renters, but save the city and state $35.6 million annually on homeless services and other expenses.

“This is a small amount, a small investment for such a large group of people that it will be helping,” she said.

She said the bill may grant more than 5,000 families facing eviction annually the right to counsel every year.