Washington, D.C. – Today, the White House and the Department of Justice convened 99 law schools that responded to the Attorney General’s Call to Action to the Legal Profession to address the housing and eviction crisis.

     Ninety-nine law schools in 35 states and Puerto Rico immediately committed their law schools to help prevent evictions. In just a few months, law students across the country dedicated nearly 81,000 hours to provide legal assistance to households and communities across the country.

     To help further advance this effort, Washburn Law Clinical professor, Michelle Ewert, was appointed to the Ad Hoc Committee on Best Practices for Eviction Proceedings created by the Kansas Supreme Court. This committee was charged with combining their individual knowledge and experiences to assist in examining and analyzing issues related to the eviction process and to identify best practices for eviction proceedings in Kansas, with the goal of reducing court filings, expeditiously resolving pending cases, and enhancing housing stability.

     “We’re proud of the work professor Ewert is doing as the sole law professor on this committee,” said Carla Pratt, Washburn University School of Law dean. Her work as part of the committee as well as her daily commitment to training students in our civil litigation clinic truly embodies Washburn’s commitment to support equity and justice in the state of Kansas.

     The White House provided the following quotes and information.

     “Five months ago, I asked the legal community to answer the call to help Americans facing eviction. Law students and lawyers from across the country stepped up to take on cases, and assisted their clients and communities at a time when our country needed it the most. Today, our work is far from over, and making real the promise of equal justice under law remains our urgent and unfinished mission.” – Attorney General Merrick Garland

     Law schools drew on resources, such as pro bono and externship programs, clinical offerings, and the service of the larger law school community to help struggling families avoid eviction through rental assistance application support, volunteering with legal aid providers, helping courts implement eviction diversion programs, among other initiatives aimed at increasing housing stability and access to justice.

     “The housing crisis is a poverty and economic security issue because of the long-lasting effects that we know evictions have on families. It’s a racial and gender justice issue because of the disproportionate effect the spike in evictions will have on women and people of color. That’s why I have encouraged courts to adopt eviction diversion as an essential tool for keeping people in their homes and landlords to access rental assistance during the pandemic.” - Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta

     This call to action by the Attorney General and the response from 99 Law Schools is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s all-of-government approach to help millions of families keep up on rent and remain in their homes. These efforts—along with the distribution of $25-30 billion distributed to well over 3 million households in need through in the American Rescue Plan Emergency Rental Assistance program by the end of 2021—has led to increased access to counsel and eviction diversion in jurisdictions across the country and kept eviction filing rates below 60% of averages in a typical year.

     “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building a legal system that is just, fair, and accessible to all, but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we salute the law school deans, faculty, and students for answering our call, and for using their legal skills to further the cause of access to justice. Their efforts will provide dignity, housing security, and justice to millions of families across our country.” – Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff

     “Today. . . state and local ERA programs have obligated well over $25 billion in rental assistance and made more than 3 million payments to households. Eviction Lab data shows that in the four full months since the end of the eviction moratorium in August, eviction filings have remained below 60% of historical levels. The data shows that this program is working, keeping hundreds of thousands of families safely housed.” – Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo

     “We believe that the increased access to counsel that is being provided by such dedicated law students and clinical programs has prevented eviction, despair and even homelessness for countless families, and that these types of access to justice and court diversion reforms are also critical to the long-term reforms needed to build back to a better and more humane national eviction policy.” – Gene Sperling, Senior Advisor to the President and American Rescue Plan Coordinato

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Editor’s Note

Washburn University School of Law – ABA-Accredited Since 1923. 1700 SW College, Topeka, KS 66621. Washburn University School of Law was founded in 1903 with 41 students enrolled in the first class. Almost 120 years later, our worldwide network of more than 7,000 alumni includes nationally recognized lawyers, state and federal judges, Kansas Supreme Court Justices, politicians, television journalists and senior executives of Fortune 500 companies and national legal associations. Washburn University School of Law’s tradition of excellence in teaching is enhanced by its six Centers for Excellence: the Business and Transactional Law Center, the Center for Excellence in Advocacy, the Center for Law and Government, the Children and Family Law Center, the International and Comparative Law Center, and the Oil and Gas Law Center. For more information about Washburn Law, visit www.washburnlaw.edu.

For further information, contact:
Karli Davis
Director of Marketing Communications, Washburn University School of Law
Office: 785-670-2013
Email: karli.davis@washburn.edu
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