MINNEAPOLIS – Today, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Council Member Jeremy Schroeder joined housing advocates, including the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN), Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and representatives from Twin Cities law firms to announce that More Representation Minneapolis met its first-year goal of increasing legal assistance for Twin Cities tenants by 20 percent nearly three months ahead of schedule.
Last November, Frey, VLN, Mid-Minnesota Legal-Aid, and participating law firms launched More Representation Minneapolis with the goal of increasing its overall pro bono housing representation, with a focus on eviction representation and repair litigation, by 20 percent. The program has grown to include 16 Twin Cities firms and already met its hourly goal for 2019 – nearly three months ahead of schedule – providing 2,300 hours of support to Twin Cities tenants, up from 1,900 hours last year.
“Representation in housing court can mean the difference between up-ending a family and the freedom to pursue a better life,” said Frey. “The difference representation makes can be staggering: while nearly 80 percent of tenants who have a lawyer and end up moving leave court without an eviction record, just six percent of those without a lawyer can say the same thing. Through More Representation Minneapolis, our pro bono legal community is doing life changing work.”
Fewer than 10 percent of Hennepin County tenants facing eviction have an attorney representing them when their eviction cases are heard in court while roughly half of landlords have an attorney. Frey and Schroeder have made securing tenants’ rights a priority in city hall.
“Evictions limit housing stability and restrict housing options. Expanding access to legal representation in housing court is one way we, as a community, can address our housing crisis head-on,” said Schroeder. “The success we’ve seen to date with More Representation Minneapolis is a meaningful affirmation of this strategy, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues at City Hall and our community partners to deepen our impact.”
“We know that when tenants are represented by a lawyer during an eviction, they are far more likely to stay in their homes and are far less likely to have an eviction remain on their record,” said Muria Kruger with VLN. “Because we also live in country where having an eviction on your record makes it almost impossible to find healthy, safe and affordable housing, we now understand that having legal representation plays a key role in keeping families stably housed and avoiding homelessness.”
“Minneapolis families deserve a chance at justice before being forced from their homes. Lawyers give them that chance,” said Luke Grundman with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. “Lawyers give them that chance. Legal representation for families facing eviction makes our court system more fair and prevents homelessness.”
Frey also allocated funding in both the 2019 budget to fund an Eviction Representation Pilot to provide legal services for low income renters facing displacement from their housing.
Law firms participating in More Representation Minneapolis include Briggs and Morgan, P.A., Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Fish & Richardson, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., Gray Plant Mooty, Jones Day, Maslon LLP, Merchant & Gould, Stinson LLP, Robins Kaplan LLP, McEllistrem, Fargione, Landy, Rorvig & Eken, P.A., Gregerson, Rosow, Johnson & Nilan, Ltd., Felhaber Larson, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie P.A., and Dorsey & Whitney.
For more information about More Representation Minneapolis or to sign up to volunteer, contact Muria Kruger at 612-752-6647; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO CAPTION: (Left to right) Kevin Kitchen with Stinson, LLP, Minneapolis Council Member Jeremy Schroeder, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Donnell McDowell, Muria Kruger with the Volunteer Lawyers Network, and Luke Grundman announce the first-year results of More Representation Minneapolis at a panel discussion.