The Louisville Metro Council voted overwhelmingly (22-4) on April 22 in favor of establishing a right-to-counsel program, to be provided by the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless. Louisville joins nine other cities across the U.S. to pass such a law. Councilwoman Cassie Chambers Armstrong championed the proposal and cited how necessary right-to-counsel is during this pandemic as millions have lost their jobs and fallen behind on rent.
The program will be funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and will run for at least one year. The federal eviction moratorium has proven necessary but limited, as nearly 3,000 eviction cases were filed in Jefferson County between January and March of this year. This new program would afford those facing eviction a publicly funded lawyer, just as those who commit a crime are afforded legal counsel. The program, however, has a key restriction: it is only open to those with at least one child and an income below 125% of the federal poverty line, $33,125 for a four-person household per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"The Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky (HHCK) commends Louisville Metro Council for establishing a right to counsel for low-income families with children facing eviction,” said HHCK Executive Director Adrienne Bush. “We also lift up the Coalition for the Homeless, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, and local advocates and partners for their persistence in securing this right. Typically, two-thirds of all evictions in Kentucky happen in Louisville, so we feel this is a meaningful step toward leveling the playing field between corporate landlords and low-income Kentuckians."
NLIHC has made renter protections a key component of the HoUSed Campaign, and right to counsel falls directly in line with our priorities. We are hopeful that this represents a cascade of other states and localities passing similar legislation.
Read more about the Louisville ordinance at: https://bit.ly/3upE3xf