Anne Boyle

The Project

Anne will work at the Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC) of Maryland, under their Courtroom Advocacy Project’s Housing Justice Program, to provide pro bono representation to tenants facing housing instability.

As rental costs rise steeply, evictions due to an inability to pay rent are skyrocketing. The vast majority of tenants facing a legal threat to their housing situation lack counsel, which could mean the difference between remaining in their home or losing it. Despite the high rents, many tenants also live in dangerous conditions and do not know they have the right to demand a safe home. As is so often the case, these problems disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities.

Having grown up with a single mother who could not afford to own her own home, Anne knows what it’s like to lack control over your housing. The power imbalance between tenants and landlords is unjust; she wants to help even that imbalance through providing free legal services to those who need them.

Fellowship Plans

Anne will participate in PBRC’s rent clinic, where attorneys provide day-of-court, limited-scope representation to tenants in district courts for Baltimore City and County. She will also take on an in-house caseload of landlord/tenant cases, including tenant holding over, breach of lease, and escrow cases. Finally, she will help recruit, train, mentor, and support the PBRC’s many volunteer attorneys.

Everyone deserves equal access to justice: being unable to afford an attorney should not lead to losing one’s home. Through my work I want to help bridge the justice gap in housing.”

Anne Boyle /
2022 Fellow in the Housing Justice Program

The Project

Warren’s (he/him) project will address housing insecurity in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with a particular focus on eviction defense.

Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County serves people facing eviction and provides counsel to defendants beginning on the day of their hearings under Maryland’s new access to counsel law.  These tenants often do not understand the extent of their legal rights in eviction proceedings and need counsel to guide them through challenges to the insufficiency of the landlord’s complaint, rent escrow defenses, and the possibility of requesting a stay of the eviction.

Maryland tenants face eviction at the highest rate in the nation. Within Maryland, Prince George’s County’s eviction rate is eclipsed only by Baltimore.  The COVID-19 pandemic left many Maryland households behind on rent, and while some have found relief through assistance programs, their landlords persist in filing eviction proceeding before these benefits come through.  Perversely, these rental assistance programs have become so overwhelmed by requests that many tenants must consent to an eviction judgment to gain access to relief funding.  Because of this perverse system of incentives, obtaining the client’s best interest in eviction proceedings can require conceding the initial case, connecting the client with relief organizations, and then assisting the client with post-judgment motions to vacate or seal the proceedings once the rent is paid.

Fellowship Plans

Warren will directly represent people threatened with eviction by defending them in eviction proceedings and negotiating with their landlords for critical delays in litigation to allow time for rental assistance to arrive. He will also assist in training local attorney volunteers to assist in this defense. Warren will also participate in Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County’s education and outreach programs to help tenants avoid eviction proceedings before they begin.

Eviction threatens ordinary people’s stability and security. Their landlords use the force of law to extract profit from the need for housing, then discard tenants when they become inconvenient. I want to level the playing field for housing-insecure people.”

Warren Buff /
2022 Fellow in the Housing Justice Program

The Project

Emily’s (she/her) project will focus on expanding tenants’ rights in counties across South Carolina.

In South Carolina and across the country, eviction rates are rising as eviction moratoria have ended, housing shortages result in increased rent, and urban and small-town renewal projects alike have displaced low-income residents. Legal proceedings are confusing and intimidating for tenants facing eviction and there are not designated times or places in court that matters related to housing are handled separately from other civil cases. This confusion is compounded by barriers to court attendance, let alone retention of counsel, including a lack of reliable transportation or childcare, or financial insecurity that is usually the cause of the eviction lawsuit in the first place. Because evictions can be automatic when a tenant fails to appear in court, and because evictions in South Carolina remain on a person’s record for life, tenants facing eviction can face lifelong collateral consequences that could have been avoided had a tenant had access to legal representation at or before a court date.

Fellowship Plans

Emily plans to partner with magistrate courts and community organizers across several counties to create infrastructure for a housing court system that provides access to counsel for all tenants at risk of eviction. Housing Courts would allow each tenant facing eviction access to an attorney, and terms of court would be held at specific and consistent times wherein only issues regarding landlords and tenants would be heard. These courts would be tailored to the needs of each county that will host them, accounting for the specific barriers experienced by tenants in both urban and rural areas.

As a former public defender, I have seen firsthand how integral stable housing is to all aspects of a person’s legal, personal, and social wellbeing. I am so excited that this Equal Justice Works fellowship has afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with community members across my home state to protect tenants and keep our neighbors housed.”

Emily Blackshire /
2022 Fellow in the Housing Justice Program

The Project

Taylor Rumble, hosted by Charleston Legal Access, will establish Housing Court in two South Carolina counties. Her Fellowship will fill a void in the legal field market where tenants facing eviction are consistently without legal representation. Taylor will collaborate with organizations across South Carolina to support tenants facing evictions through the legal process.

According to the South Carolina Justice Gap Report, in 2019, 99.7% of defendants in eviction cases were unrepresented. With the majority of landlords attending court with legal representation of their own, tenants are left at a disadvantage without legal representation at a crucial time in their life.

Fellowship Plans

Taylor will collaborate with local organizations to defeat barriers to legal representation in eviction hearings. By establishing Housing Court in at least two additional South Carolina counties, she will support tenants facing housing instability through the legal process. With so few tenants having legal representation, expanding Housing Court will enable historically unrepresented tenants to be represented by a pro bono attorney and will prevent families from losing their homes. This fair-minded change will help make eviction hearings an impartial playing field for both sides.

Living in a city with the highest eviction rate in the U.S. inspired Taylor to advocate for equal access to legal representation for those who are facing eviction and are at risk of losing their home. During law school, Taylor worked at a legal clinic with people experiencing homelessness and learned through their experiences how incredibly difficult it is to obtain or maintain employment, care for one’s health, and maintain family relationships without first establishing safe housing. As a foster parent, Taylor continues to see the damaging effects of evictions on family life and stability. Taylor’s desire to create lasting changes in her community led her to pursue this fellowship role.

Media

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

The most basic human needs are physiological (shelter, air, water, food, and sleep), I am honored to work with like-minded individuals through this fellowship to defeat barriers that families facing housing instability experience by expanding access to justice in the context of landlord-tenant law through Housing Courts.

Taylor Rumble /
2022 Housing Justice Program Fellow

The Project

Jake will partner with his host organization, CASA, inc. to proudly represent immigrant communities facing housing instability throughout Maryland, ensuring they have access to safe housing and justice.

Housing instability in Maryland has reached a crescendo. Eviction rates and rents have risen hand-in-hand while housing conditions often have not, burdening low-income families already struggling to keep a safe roof over their heads. Housing instability specifically has a disproportionate impact on members of Maryland’s low-income immigrant community, who have unequal access to remedies under Maryland’s legal system due to language and cost barriers.

Fellowship Plans

Jake will provide direct and full legal services to tenants facing eviction, inhumane and unsafe property conditions, wrongful detainer suits, and other legal issues related to housing security. From initial interviews to trial, Jake will help tenants see a fair day in court. Additionally, Jake will host Know Your Rights training presentations. Knowledge is power, and this is especially true within our legal system. Jake will also aid community organizing efforts, campaign for improved laws, and draft legislation on behalf of Maryland’s immigrant communities.

In college, Jake dreamed of becoming an immigration attorney. However, after struggling with unsafe housing conditions while working towards his law degree, and after hearing hundreds of similar stories from almost everyone he knew, Jake switched gears. He believes that all people deserve access to stable housing and hopes to create a pathway for tenants to learn their rights and seek justice.

Media

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

I am proud to advocate for the rights of immigrant communities and tenants as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. In doing so, I play an active part in creating a more just and equitable society.

Jake Kmiech /
2022 Housing Justice Program Fellow

The Project

DiNesha’s (she/they) project, hosted by the Homeless Persons Representation Project’s Homeless Youth Initiative, will focus on eviction defense and increasing access to permanent housing for youth and young adults in Baltimore City, Maryland.

This Fellowship seeks to address housing issues facing youth up to the age of 25. Many times, housing resources are not geared toward this age demographic leaving them unhoused or subject to cyclical transitional housing. By providing legal and educational assistance specifically for this population, DiNesha will seek to increase the number of youth and young adults’ access to permanent housing.

Fellowship Plans

Increasing access to permanent housing for youth and young adults will require advocacy, collaborative partnerships with the community providers and those affected by housing instability, as well as homelessness and legislative policy change. Eviction and subsidized housing defense are essential to ensure that those currently housed remain housed and those denied get the housing they need. Additionally, connecting with Continuum of Care organizations providing resources to those who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability is paramount to connecting with the community this fellowship seeks to serve. Through those partnerships, DiNesha will develop and execute legal clinics to not only educate youth about their rights as tenants but also support the education of staff so that the work may continue after the completion of the Fellowship. Lastly, DiNesha will advocate for legislative policy changes affecting homeless youth by persistently uplifting youths’ voices and strategic coalition building to continue developing lasting infrastructure that effectively supports Baltimore’s youth and young adults.

This opportunity was uniquely catered to a demographic that DiNesha has always sought to serve: youth and young adults. Youth are our future and investing in their well-being is one of the best investments an individual and a community can make. Although DiNesha struggled with housing instability and homeless throughout their youth and young adulthood, the trajectory of their lives was not determined by those periods. It was because of those that made an investment in them and the same can be said about the community they now seek to serve.

Media

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

As a person from a low-income background who has struggled with youth housing instability and homelessness, I’m honored and proud to serve a community from which I proudly identify and be an example of the possibilities the future may offer.

DiNesha Rucker /
2022 Housing Justice Program Fellow

The Project

Sloan will work with the Housing Attorney Fellow at Appleseed to provide and connect tenants with legal aid, resources, community organizations, and tools for advocacy within their communities.

Tenants and low-income people in the Midlands are struggling with rising rent prices and a severe rental home shortage. Approximately 27% of rental households are extremely low income throughout the state.

Sloan will work to address these issues by conducting outreach with grassroots organizations working with tenants and the unhoused throughout eight counties in South Carolina. She will grow relationships with groups working on the ground to help with the housing and rental crises that the area faces. Sloan will also provide public information, educational sessions, and workshops focused on tenants’ rights, evictions, and other legal aid advice.

Fellowship Plans

Sloan will provide resources and support for tenant-led advocacy groups in low-income housing complexes though community organizations partnerships, distributed organizing outreach, educational sessions, and legal aid.

Sloan’s knowledge of reproductive justice, prison abolition, and housing liberation has informed so much of her advocacy and how she approaches community organizing.

Sloan is passionate about organizing, mutual aid, and social justice education. She’s been able to build strong connections and relationships with community non-profit organizations in the Columbia area over the past four years. Sloan approaches housing justice from a people-focused, abolitionist lens and will continue to leverage her positionality and resources to assist and support the tenants’ rights movements.

Media

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

I am excited to continue building up and supporting people power movements for housing justice and beyond.

Sloan Wilson /
2022 Organizer Fellow in the Housing Justice Program

The Project

Malique Parker’s (He/His) project will focus on increasing tenant engagement by organizing in Baltimore City. He will facilitate tenant-led organizing through outreach, education, and community organizing.

Malique will connect with Black and Brown tenants who are facing eviction or substandard housing conditions with attorneys hired under the implementation of the state and city eviction right-to-counsel laws.

Fellowship Plans

Malique will develop and execute a weekly plan for Baltimore Renters United outreach in buildings, rent courts, and/or other public spaces. He will implement regular, bi-monthly city-wide tenant organizing meetings. Offer tenant training and Know Your Rights training throughout the year to groups. Lastly, he will recruit tenant leaders to participate in national training with other tenant-led organizing groups.

Media

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

The Project

Mary’s Fellowship with Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services will focus on housing justice in Charleston, South Carolina by assisting low-income individuals facing housing instability.

South Carolina has a high rate of evictions and Charleston County has one of the highest rates in the state. Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services participates in the state’s Housing Court Program, where tenants facing evictions can obtain legal representation for their hearings at no cost. Mary will be providing free legal assistance to low-income individuals facing housing instability issues, including eviction, in Charleston County.

Mary decided to assist with housing justice in Charleston because she is passionate about social justice and helping others. Mary has always wanted to put her legal education to good use and is doing so by addressing housing issues in an area with a high eviction rate.

Fellowship Plans

Mary will be supporting the Housing Court Program by attending Housing Court hearings and providing legal representation to eligible tenants facing eviction. Additionally, Mary will be providing free legal representation to individuals who have other housing issues and will work on expanding the Housing Court Program to include more locations.

The Project

Rebecca’s project will focus on increasing access to housing justice in Northern Virginia.

In 2022, many of the laws and resources in Virginia that were aimed at preventing eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic have been repealed even though hardships caused by the pandemic persist. As a result, there is now a wave of mass-eviction and a crisis in housing insecurity. Low-income people are the most likely to be affected by the mass eviction and least capable of securing legal representation.

Fellowship Plans

As an Equal Justice Fellow, Rebecca will provide low-income clients facing eviction and exploitation by their landlords with legal representation. She will work to build out the network of organizations and community leaders who serve low-income individuals facing housing instability. She will create accessible legal materials to arm people with knowledge of their rights and resources.

Media

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

My Equal Justice Fellowship has provided me the opportunity to focus my work exclusively on housing justice for the people who need it most here in Fairfax, Virginia. I have lived in Northern Virginia my entire life, and I take great pride in working to make it a safe and prosperous home for all. I believe that housing is a fundamental right and working to preserve this right is incredibly fulfilling.

Rebecca Leussing /
2022 Housing Justice Program Fellow