An eviction is often the first step on the path to homelessness for vulnerable Indianapolis residents, but a new program by Indiana Legal Services seeks to decrease this likelihood by providing legal representation to those facing eviction. This innovative project has been named the recipient of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation's 2018 Anniversary Impact Fund Grant of $50,000.
The Eviction Avoidance Project (EAP) will employ a "right to counsel" approach, which means that all eligible applicants will receive legal representation. The EAP attorney will prioritize keeping clients housed, but if eviction becomes inevitable, the focus will shift to creating a "soft landing," keeping the eviction off of his or her record and negotiating move-out circumstances that reduce the likelihood of homelessness.
A similar project in New York City in 2014 found astounding results, with a 24 percent city-wide drop in evictions. Locally, despite a healthy economic climate, Marion County faced a 10 percent increase in the number of persons experiencing homelessness from 2016 to 2017. Indianapolis also ranked fourth nation-wide in eviction rates from 2015 to 2017.
"This project will have a profound effect on individuals at risk of eviction in Indianapolis, who often have no help or understanding of their rights in these situations," says Rebecca Geyer, attorney at Rebecca Geyer & Associates and 2018 Indianapolis Bar Foundation President.
"We are thrilled to be awarding $50,000 to this very worth cause during this year, our 50th anniversary. This project represents our continued commitment to advancing justice in Indianapolis through philanthropy, education and service."
The project is scheduled to launch in September 2018 and continue until August 2019. It is expected that the project will provide representation for 110 clients during this term.
About the Indianapolis Bar Foundation & the Impact Fund
The Impact Fund began in 2011 as a vehicle to maximize the financial generosity of Indianapolis Bar Foundation donors and to provide members of the Indianapolis Bar Association with compelling opportunities to donate their time through pro bono service. Since its inception, $210,000 has been awarded through the fund to organizations like Kids' Voice of Indiana, Indy Reads, Peace Learning Center, the Joseph Maley Foundation, the Military Assistance Project of Indiana Legal Services Inc., Reach for Youth, and the Health and Human Rights Clinic at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in an effort to provide a significant positive impact in central Indiana through the promotion of access to justice for indigent persons.
The Impact Fund is an important tool in the foundation’s efforts to fulfill its mission: to advance justice and lead positive change in Indianapolis through philanthropy, education and service. In addition to the Impact Fund, the Indianapolis Bar Foundation grants $105,000 each year to a variety of community service programs co-sponsored with the Indianapolis Bar Association.
About Indiana Legal Services
Indiana Legal Services, Inc. (ILS) is a not-for-profit law firm and the largest provider of free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income people throughout the state of Indiana. ILS helps clients who are faced with legal problems that harm their ability to have such basics as food, shelter, income, medical care or personal safety. Most of the cases ILS handles are cases such as family law where there is domestic violence, housing, consumer law, access to health care, and access to government benefits. ILS does not handle any criminal matters.