Maryland Access to Counsel in Evictions Task Force Releases First Report
The Maryland Access to Counsel in Evictions Task Force released its first annual report to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly regarding funding and implementation of the statewide access to counsel in evictions program. The Task Force was created by the General Assembly with members appointed by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, and it is staffed by the Office of the Attorney General. When funded, Maryland Legal Services Corporation will be the administrator of the Program.
The Task Force’s report is the culmination of three months of research, analysis, and discussion. The 15-member Task Force made eight key recommendations in the areas of outreach and education, program design and implementation, program assessment and evaluation, and program funding:
- Develop an outreach strategy that centralizes access, disperses resources and services, and considers technological and other barriers to getting information.
- Establish a centralized repository for pre-filing notices related to eviction cases and administrative proceedings that protects individual privacy and confidentiality, but also allows such notices to be used to gather data, analyze trends, and facilitate outreach.
- Create a coordinated intake system that simplifies the process for tenants seeking legal assistance in eviction cases.
- Adopt uniform court rules and procedures for rent court dockets to ensure that eligible tenants have the opportunity to meaningfully and consistently exercise their right to access counsel.
- Provide adequate staff, including attorneys and paralegals who are ready and competent to provide services.
- Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the program to assess the effectiveness of outreach and referrals, the impact of legal services on evictions and disruptive displacements, and the appropriate levels of funding and staffing.
- Create a centralized eviction data hub to collect, display, and analyze eviction-related data from key stakeholders, while protecting individual privacy.
- Provide sufficient funding for the Access to Counsel in Evictions Special Fund to fully implement the program throughout the state as required by the statute.
Read the full report: https://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/A2C_docs/ATC_Task_Force_Report.pdf.