MISSOULA — Some Missoula residents are mobilizing against what they call unjust evictions and this month dozens of people gathered to protest some of the evictions.
Dozens of Missulians recently rallied outside a local property management company to speak out against the recent evictions.
MTN News spoke to tenants and legal experts to understand their frustrations and their rights.
“Any property management company that evicts someone who has nowhere to go is responsible for their homelessness and the suffering that comes with it,” tenant Jackson Sapp said.
According to the ACLU, 90% of landlords and property management companies have lawyers in eviction cases, compared to only 10% of tenants.
The Montana Legal Services Association (MSLA) reports that 3,000 people sought their services for housing-related issues in 2021.
MSLA notes that there are several programs in place to help find tenant attorneys or offer legal advice.
“It’s by bringing lawyers together through MSLA – the pro bono program and the MEIP program that we’re trying to fill the need as much as possible,” Szollosi explained.
The programs bring lawyers together and provide services to people in need. There are three full-time housing attorneys working in the Missoula office and legal services are maxed out, but MSLA is working to hire more staff.
Montana Legal Services Association Staff attorney Wednesday Szollosi comes prepared with presentations and resources for tenants and encourages people to call or check out resources online if they’re facing eviction.
Protesters say they want property management companies to stop evicting people who have nowhere to go and that they want all tenants to have legal representation.
“While we clearly come from a place of rage and upheaval, ultimately we want to foster a healthy community,” Missoula tenant Jackson Sapp told MTN News.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article attributed the quote “Any property management company that evicts someone who has nowhere to go is responsible for their homelessness and resulting suffering.” at the Montana Legal Services Association. The statement was made by a tenant.