A2JC Succeeds in Securing Additional $56 Million in Funding For the Access to Counsel in Evictions Law through 2027
From its inception, A2JC has been, and continues to be, a staunch supporter of the Access to Counsel in Evictions law (ACE). The law passed in 2021 and at its root, the ACE law acknowledges the detrimental impact of evictions on Marylanders and the necessity of an attorney to help tenants navigate complex rent cases. By providing tenants counsel in eviction cases, the ACE law serves as a means for preventing the disruptive displacement of families and increases access to justice for vulnerable Marylanders who would otherwise be forced to navigate eviction proceedings on their own.
Despite these truths, at the start of the 2022 legislative session, the ACE program remained unfunded. It took a concerted effort from A2JC, together with the MSBA and other key civil legal aid providers to urge the General Assembly to take action. In 2022 we prevailed in securing $25.8M in start-up funding for the ACE Law through FY2024. In 2022 we noted that the ACE law was being funded through a mix of federal and state funding sources, some of which were set to expire. We knew then what we also know now: that stable and continuous funding is the lynchpin to successful implementation of the ACE law.
This year, as emergency rental assistance programs expired and eviction case filings continued to rise, A2JC rallied leaders from Maryland’s civil legal aid organizations and together we called on legislators to act again, this time to ensure stable and continuous funding for the ACE law. We are proud to report that after months of dogged advocacy, Maryland’s General Assembly has enacted SB756 and the legislation has been sent to the Governor’s desk for signature. The bill extends funding distributions through fiscal year 2027 and adds an additional $56 million in civil legal aid funding towards implementing Maryland’s Access to Counsel in Evictions program.
Special thanks to the MSBA, Maryland’s civil legal aid providers, our sponsors and other justice partners who joined the effort to urge lawmakers to act through, among other things, task force reporting, hours of testimony and concerted social media campaigns online. Our work over the past few years in educating elected officials about the civil justice crisis has helped create these important strides in ensuring access to counsel for Marylanders facing eviction.