Grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will Fund Public Awareness Program and Feature Four Clinics Throughout Baltimore
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), the largest provider of pro bono civil legal services to low-income Marylanders, today announced it was awarded $97,000 from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to increase awareness of the critical need for estate planning and homeownership services. MVLS will collaborate with the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development to execute a citywide awareness campaign to educate Baltimore City residents – especially low to moderate-income individuals – about the value planning can have on keeping families in their homes, as well as community stability.
“We are grateful to receive generous support from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development as we are strongly committed to assisting Baltimore City’s low-income, elderly and other vulnerable residents who face financial challenges in the areas of housing and financial stability,” said Susan Francis, deputy director, MVLS and member of Baltimore City’s Commission for Aging and Retirement Education. “Improperly recorded deeds, and other housing-related legal documents can pose a number of barriers for low-income homeowners to receive housing-related assistance and avoid foreclosure, tax sale and their homes falling into disrepair.”
The DHCD grant will allow MVLS and Baltimore City to generate awareness of the benefits of estate planning and resolving homeownership issues while providing tools on how to receive legal assistance. The four clinics will provide free legal advice from MVLS volunteer attorneys, community resources and referral information, ensuring that the one wealth-building asset that most families have – their home – is able to stay in their family now and that the home will pass to future generations. MVLS and Baltimore City will produce collateral materials to educate and inform the public about the importance of planning, including the development of wills, steps to avoid probate and how to make sure someone is the legal owner of their home. The clinics will be launched in early 2019.
“Increasing the number of residents who have completed estate planning, life estate deeds and have properly administered estates increases Baltimore City’s housing stability and residents’ financial stability,” continued Francis. “Something as simple as ensuring a homeowner is listed on the deed to their home can be vital to stabilizing that family and their neighborhood for several generations.”
To learn more about MVLS’ estate planning and administration services, please visit www.mvlslaw.org.
About Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS)
Founded in 1981 with a mission to provide access to justice for all, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) serves Maryland’s low-income residents by offering legal counseling and full representation for civil cases. MVLS matches clients with volunteer lawyers who represent them in a wide range of consumer, family and workforce re-entry situations, including foreclosure, bankruptcy, income tax disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, wills, estate planning, criminal record expungement, divorce/custody and deed changes. For more information about MVLS’ services, visit www.mvlslaw.org.