Pro Bono News

College Law Students Offering Pro-Bono Defense for Struggling Renters

Sunday, February 18, 2018

College Law Students Offering Pro-Bono Defense for Struggling Renters

"It is common knowledge Atlanta has a housing affordability problem. The city has made headlines for not only its unaffordable rent prices but also its recent eviction problems. That’s where the Atlanta Housing Court Assistance Center comes in.

The Center began as the Fulton County Answers Clinic in 2016 but closed in August 2017. It reopened Oct. 3, 2017, as the Housing Court Assistance Center through a coalition between the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, the Georgia State University College of Law Center for Access to Justice, the Lawyers for Equal Justice and the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless.

At the Center, volunteer lawyers and students provide pro-bono legal aid to clients threatened by eviction or other housing problems.

Andrew Thompson is the director of the Center, managing it as part of a collaboration between the Center and the Lawyers for Equal Justice. Through demographic data clients selected during intake, he discovered a staggering 95 percent of clients reported being African-American, and 70 percent identified as women.

In January 2018, 100 percent of clients served were African American.

He also found eviction rates to be highest in southwest Atlanta, in areas like Union City and East Point. The Center is open to cases from the whole city, but 27 percent of all evictions the Center served came from only two zip codes in the southwest. Thompson hopes in the future the Center can do more targeted outreach to those neighborhoods with the highest need..."

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