Photo of Tomi Robb

Tomi Robb

  • Hosted by Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services
  • Sponsored by International Paper
  • Service location Nashville , Tennessee
  • Law school University of Tennessee College of Law
  • Issue area Housing - Affordable Housing/Microfinance, Pro se and other legal representation systems
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Tomi  (she/her/hers) will establish a legal services delivery model that combines eviction prevention and wrap-around legal services thereby increasing housing stability for Tennesseans who are at risk of becoming homeless. 

Fifteen million people nationally are at risk of eviction because they are currently behind on rental payments, including approximately 17% of Tennesseans. 45% of Tennessee households are Housing Cost Burdened, which means that 30% or more of their monthly income goes to housing expenses. Evictions compound the negative consequences for burdened tenants, including extended homelessness, legal action for debt collection, outstanding fees and fines that can result in drivers’ license revocation and the ensuing issues of transportation instability, and declining mental and physical health. Evictions also drive significant costs to State and local governments in the form of increased shelter nights, rehousing services, emergency healthcare costs, unemployment insurance, and other public costs. 

Fellowship Plans 

 Tomi’s project will focus on eviction prevention and wrap-around civil legal services for tenants as well as Mom & Pop landlords, thereby increasing housing stability in Tennessee at a critical time when many Tennesseans are at risk of becoming homeless. Through the fellowship, Tomi will establish a statewide network of housing stability navigators to help tenants complete the online rental assistance application and provide legal representation for eviction and other qualifying housing stability related issues such as public benefits, consumer debt, child support, and tax credits, which will result in increased income and a higher likelihood that tenants can continue to pay their rent in the future. Tomi’s project will help TALS both establish this statewide legal services delivery model, and track and report on outcomes data to determine legal support needs to alleviate the eviction crisis in Tennessee. 

Tomi’s history of volunteering in prisons and working with justice-involved individuals inspired her to seek out access to justice work. Being born and raised in rural Tennessee also motivated her to pursue opportunities to bring programs and services to under-resourced areas. 

Media

UT Knoxville Advisory Board Recommends Zero Percent Tuition Increase

Graduate selected to serve public interest law fellowship

As a first-generation college student, I am passionate about seeing families equipped and empowered to rise and develop supportive programming within communities.

Tomi Robb /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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