Civil Legal Aid Essential in Avoiding a National Eviction Catastrophe

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Release Date: 
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Civil Legal Aid Essential in Avoiding a National Eviction Catastrophe

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to halt the most recent CDC moratorium threatens to create a housing and homelessness crisis of immense proportion. Policymakers at the federal, state and local levels, courts and legal representatives across the nation must come together immediately to ensure that tenants’ rights are protected throughout this process.

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) welcomes the Biden administration’s response from various departments, including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), to help communities across the country face the imminent perils of surging eviction filings, proceedings and judgments.

The need for legal assistance for tenants facing eviction and housing instability is paramount, as is the need for resources to support the civil legal aid community, which is at the center of effective efforts to provide legal support to tenants.

In a joint letter issued last Friday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, reiterated NLADA’s assertion regarding the significance of legal representation to tenants facing eviction, in addition to assisting tenants in gaining  access to Emergence Rental Assistance (ERA) relief. They also called on states, localities and courts to stay eviction proceedings and help tenants access emergency rental assistance and urged the support for right to counsel, including through the use of ERA and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

On Monday, AG Garland issued a call to the legal community to assist with the unfolding crisis.

Legal aid providers, including NLADA members, across the country form the infrastructure that houses the expertise and experience to deal with this crisis. The NLADA community welcomes the assistance of pro bono, navigators and self-help resources in coordination with the expertise of civil legal aid.

Throughout this pandemic, NLADA members have deployed and redeployed that expertise and experience to meet the ever-shifting landscape of hurdles faced by tenants. NLADA has and will continue to advocate diligently at the federal level to ensure the resources necessary are available to support the critical work of legal aid and public defense advocates across the country that is helping maintain shelter for individuals and families.

NLADA will continue to monitor this unfolding crisis. For updates and additional information, visit


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local levels, playing a leadership role in the creation of public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.