Posted in: Lawyers › None, Pro Bono
"If not us, who? If not now, when?" – John F. Kennedy
Did you know that prior to the pandemic, South Carolina led the nation in the number of eviction filings? This crisis has only worsened since the pandemic began. It is estimated that the state could see 190,000 eviction filings over the next four months. Who is impacted? People you or your family members may interact with every day – waiters and waitresses, fast food workers, cashiers, retail salespersons, cooks, stockers and order fillers, nursing assistants, and home health care aides, to name a few.
Because wages in South Carolina have not kept pace with the cost of rent, people in these occupations often live one unexpected circumstance away from not having funds to meet their basic needs. That unexpected circumstance came in the form of COVID-19. Unlike a car repair or other expense that only affects one person, the impact of the pandemic on those who are cost-burdened is widespread and has left thousands without funds to pay rent and therefore subject to eviction.
Evictions of this magnitude affect not only the families being evicted, but our state as a whole. Evictions have a cascade effect, often leading to the following: family instability, disruption, and displacement; homelessness; increased shelter costs; increased policing, incarceration, prosecution, and court costs; disruption in a child's education; loss of employment and/or difficulty finding employment; increased risk of physical and mental health issues; increased healthcare costs; increased risk of children entering foster care and/or experiencing abuse/neglect; community instability; and negative impacts on credit scores and ability to re-rent.
But statistics show that over 80% of tenants who are represented by counsel in eviction matters have a successful outcome compared to only 6% when unrepresented. A majority of the time the matter can be settled.
Thanks to the hard and often overlooked work of the attorneys at South Carolina Legal Services, many of the tenants facing eviction have received legal assistance, but SCLS is almost at capacity. Members of the Bar are needed now, more than ever, to provide pro bono legal assistance to those clients SCLS cannot serve.
If you would be willing to provide pro bono legal assistance to financially-qualified tenants who are facing eviction during this time of crisis, please email Betsy Goodale at email@example.com or complete the volunteer form here. You may also email questions to Betsy at that address or call her at (803) 576-3808.