The Maryland Access to Justice Commission, powered by the Maryland State Bar Association, has released the Housing Data Dashboard—an online data tool that provides easy access to critical data related to “rent court cases” and evictions which are compiled by the Maryland Judiciary. A2JC has identified the lack of civil justice data itself as a barrier to access to justice. Thus, the launch of the Housing Data Dashboard marks increased transparency and accessibility to eviction data—one of the most voluminous types of cases in the civil justice system. “It is amazing to me that eviction has been in the news non-stop since the start of the pandemic, but Maryland did not have any eviction data available to help us visualize the problem and understand the hotspots. We wanted to solve that problem,” says Reena Shah, Executive Director of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission.
The Housing Data Dashboard takes the limited data that is buried in reports shared by the Judiciary and brings it to life in an easily understandable and accessible way. The Dashboard visualizes available data and offers interactive maps, trend lines, and bar charts to allow for comparisons across counties and comparisons across months and years—enabling communities, advocates, and elected officials to have the most real-time data at their fingertips to help inform policy decisions.
Some of the key features of the Housing Data Dashboard include:
- Rent Court case data and eviction data at your fingertips;
- Visualization of data through trend lines, bar charts and interactive maps to make it easy to access and understand the data;
- Ability to compare statewide and countywide housing case and eviction data;
- Availability of pre-pandemic numbers to assess COVID-19 impact;
- Close to real-time updates of the data once it is shared by the Judiciary; and
- Ability to identify high-need counties that are struggling with high housing-related caseloads and evictions;
The Dashboard will also be instrumental in evaluating the new Access to Counsel in Eviction Law, which makes it possible for all income qualified persons facing an eviction to have access to an attorney. As the new chair of the legislatively mandated Access to Counsel in Evictions Task Force, Shah reflects, “How can we improve something if we cannot measure it? A2JC not only worked on the Housing Data Dashboard, but also successfully pushed for legislative reforms to have more meaningful eviction data collection and reporting. We needed more granular data to assess the ACE law—to really understand hotspots at a zip code, not a county level. We needed to understand equity issues related to evictions. So, we helped craft HB824 and get it passed.” The new eviction data law will provide more granular eviction data and will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
For more information about the Maryland Access to Justice Commission, visit mdaccesstojustice.org.