Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced the “Equal Opportunity for Residential Representation Act of 2017” (H.R. 1146), designed to help provide legal and supportive services to lower income families, on February 21.
The bill would create a pilot program at HUD that would distribute grants to state-based organizations to provide legal representative assistance to families with incomes at or below 80% of their area medium income. Because counsel is not guaranteed in civil court, many low income families are susceptible to being evicted without sufficient legal representation. A similar initiative was recently announced in New York City, where almost 90% of tenants appear in civil court without representation.
“Every American deserves fair and equal representation under the law, whether in federal court or tenant or housing court,” Mr. Ellison stated in a press release on the bill. “We should be following New York’s lead and make sure that a person’s ability to afford a lawyer does not dictate whether they end up deeper in poverty or homeless”
The text of the bill has not yet been posted.
Mr. Ellison’s press release is at: http://bit.ly/2lJ7ieD