Experts provide legal advice to low-income tenants for those at risk of eviction

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Being expelled? A program called Right to Counsel connects low-income tenants with a lawyer.

Right to Counsel is a $2.6 million program that was approved by the Metro Council in June. It was funded by the US bailout and is the first resource in Central Tennessee that gives low-income tenants facing eviction an attorney.

The two-year pilot program should be fully operational by the fall.

All tenants in Davidson County will be eligible to get legal help and know their rights through Right to Counsel.

The program is expected to help several tenants in Nashville. A recent study done in Vanderbilt found that only 1% of Davidson County residents had an attorney when they were evicted.

United Way’s Erin Akery worked with Vanderbilt on the eviction study.

She said the new Right to Counsel program should do more than provide legal help to tenants.

“What this will do, I think, is it will reduce the small eviction filings that are happening right now because landlords will know their tenants will be represented,” Akery explained.

Subway Councilor Suara said she has been working on this project with United Way, Legal Aid Society and Conexión Américas for about two years. Suara told WSMV 4 that there is still a long way to go to give tenants more rights. These laws are regulated by the state.

“I hope that in the future, the right to have a lawyer for civil cases, that you will automatically have one assigned to you as for criminal cases. I hope we will get there one day, but it’s a good start,” Suara said.

To learn more about Legal Aid Society and its free legal advice clinics, Click here.

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