Metro Council advances plan to provide legal help for families facing eviction

Metro Council advances plan to provide legal help for families facing eviction

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Council is one step closer to providing more help for families struggling to stay in their homes.

Metro Council’s budget committee advanced an ordinance Thursday that would provide legal help for families who are fighting eviction in the city. If passed, the ordinance would set aside $400,000 of the city’s American Rescue Plan funds for aid that includes everything from legal advice to full counsel as families navigate the eviction process.

“Expecting someone to be a legal advocate for themselves, it’s just sort of a crazy burden to put on people,” councilwoman Cassie Chambers Armstrong said. “We should give people an advocate. We should help them understand their rights. We all understand the importance of due process, and that’s what this ordinance does.”

Chambers Armstrong is co-sponsoring the ordinance. She told WAVE 3 News the legislation is modeled off a similar ordinance in Cleveland, which she said has worked overwhelmingly.

“It is one of the single most effective ways to keep people in their homes,” Chambers Armstrong, D-8, said. “You’re giving them an advocate. You’re giving them someone to fight for them, someone to help them navigate a really complicated process. And so I think it it’s our responsibility as policy-makers who see that data to say, ‘this is working in other places [and] it will work here,’ and to steps to get that into law.”

To qualify, families have to be at 125% of the federal poverty level or lower and have at least one child.

Lori Feris is the assistant director of the Sister Visitor Center, an organization that works with families who are low-income, facing food and financial insecurity. Feris said the proposed legislation is a good start in tackling the city’s housing crisis.

“It’s a really frightening situation,” Feris said. “You get a note on your door and then the next thing you know you’re going to court and you can’t pay your bills and so you’re out. "

Neva Scott knows that struggle too; she is the executive director of the Legal Aid Society, an organization dedicated to helping people facing eviction. Scott told WAVE 3 News thousands in Louisville are behind on their rent and would be well-served by a legal expert.

“It’s a very dire circumstance when somebody calls Legal Aid and they have received an eviction notice,” Scott said. “Many times they are fearful that they are going to be immediately sent out. Sometimes people call us when they’ve already been locked out and someone has changed the locks on their home. Sometimes eviction court has already happened and they didn’t know about it. Other times, eviction court may be scheduled [for] the next day and many of our clients are just afraid and in crisis mode.”

The ordinance goes before the entire Metro Council on Thursday, April 22.

To read more on Louisville Metro’s eviction prevention, click here.

To view the full ordinance, click here.

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