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White House recognizes Creighton Law for helping address eviction crisis

Feb 2, 2022
5 min Read
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Law School assisting with housing and eviction crisis
Diane Uchimiya, JD, LLM (pictured above standing), is the director of the Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic at Creighton University School of Law. The clinic offers a number of legal services to those in need within the greater Omaha community.

 

On Jan. 28, the White House hosted an event to recognize the law schools that helped address the housing and eviction crisis. Creighton University School of Law was one of 99 recognized.


 

The White House and Department of Justice convene 99 law schools that answered attorney general’s call to action for stronger access to justice and court reform on eviction prevention

Creighton University School of Law took immediate action to increase housing stability and access to justice in Douglas County

Washington, D.C. – On Jan. 28, 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.

99 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.

“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.” – U.S. 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.” – U.S. 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

Since the American Rescue Plan was passed, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken a number of actions to speed up emergency rental assistance and establish eviction diversion programs which have dramatically accelerated relief for those in need following the end of the national eviction moratorium and throughout the public health crisis.

“Today, just over one year into the Biden Administration, 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 could not be more inspired that so many dedicated law students and clinical legal programs have risen to the call to provide legal services to hard-pressed families at risk of, too often, devastating evictions. We are encouraged that the Emergency Rental Assistance has provided critical relief to well over 3 million renters and has helped not only prevent a tsunami of evictions but kept the rate of eviction filings at 60% of historic averages. 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 Coordinator

    It was a natural extension of the work being done in our legal clinic and pro bono program, and I am proud of our students and faculty who stepped up to add additional support to those in need in our community.
    — Joshua Fershée, JD | School of Law Dean

    Creighton Law’s Community Support

    To assist this effort, Creighton Law supported its community:

    • Creighton Law has served tenants in Douglas County by partnering with the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP)-Tenant Assistance Project (TAP) through the Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic, the Pro Bono Program and the Externship Program.
    • Clinic students trained in Nebraska landlord/tenant law with the goal of preparing Eviction Defense Packets for TAP and providing limited scope representation to negotiate settlements and represent the client in the eviction hearing.
    • The Pro Bono Program also trained students in landlord/tenant law to prepare Eviction Defense Packets. The Externship Program has one student externing with VLP, supporting TAP.
    • 15 students have participated in the program and they created 125 Eviction Defense Packets.
    • Pro bono and clinic students provide more than 220 hours of free legal services.