CONTACT: Sharon Goldsmith, Executive Director
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Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland Among Nine Recipients of Johns Hopkins University Innovation Award to Stabilize Communities in Baltimore
BALTIMORE, MD – Last week, the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland was one of nine recipients of the Johns Hopkins University’s Innovation Fund for Community Safety Grants, awarded to grassroots initiatives that seek to improve community safety and reduce crime in Baltimore City. The award, totaling $220,000 across three years, will go towards funding the “Stable Homes, Safe Communities” project. The project intends to assist disinvested and marginalized community members secure safe and affordable housing, thereby preserving intergenerational resources, preventing homelessness, and stabilizing communities.
Housing stability has been linked to impacting the physical, mental, and economic health and well-being of families and communities. However, there is no established “right” to safe and affordable housing. Without such conditions of stability, youth—and their families—are more likely to experience a disruption of education, endure acute and prolonged stress reactions, suffer mental or physical health challenges, face financial insecurity, and be the victim or perpetrator of violence. Especially in the wake of a pandemic, where an estimated 21,452 households in Baltimore City are behind on rent and at-risk of eviction, ensuring that families have access to stable housing is critical.
The “Stable Homes, Safe Communities” project will utilize PBRC staff and volunteer lawyers to organize and host up to 12 free legal clinics per year, with wraparound social services being offered by community partners in targeted, low-income neighborhoods in East and Central Baltimore. PBRC will also offer free legal “Know Your Rights” presentations relevant to stable housing, community safety, and other pressing issues. Over three years, PBRC ultimately aims to assist 350 families attain housing stability, thereby enhancing safety.
PBRC is equipped to implement this project, with a proven track record of delivering effective community-based legal clinics in the areas of home tax sale and foreclosure prevention, advance and life planning, as well as court-based eviction prevention and debt defense clinics. Over the past six years, PBRC has assisted more than 650 homeowners at risk of losing their homes to tax sale maintain ownership. On average, those impacted have been in their homes for decades, with an average length of home ownership of 24 years.
About the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) is the state’s thought leader, coordinator, and clearinghouse for volunteer civil legal assistance. PBRC leads efforts across the state to encourage and accelerate pro bono service and collaborates with other nonprofits in Maryland to incubate projects that target at-risk individuals and communities, with the goal of ensuring equal access to the justice system.