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The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has launched the Minnesota anti-eviction project, which will recruit and train pro bono lawyers and law students to provide tenants facing eviction during this uncertain time with direct legal representation. The project also will coordinate with local housing and policy groups to advocate for changes at the local and state level to improve outcomes for tenants.  

“During a highly-contagious, deadly pandemic, and always, people deserve safe and adequate housing in which they can safely self-isolate and avoid needless interaction,” said Sarah Carthen Watson, associate counsel at the Fair Housing and Community Development project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We also know that the looming eviction crisis is going to disproportionately impact Black Americans and communities of color. This project was launched to ensure citizens can maintain their health, safety and well-being during a time of great uncertainty.” 

The effort is being led by Carthen Watson, who has both state and national litigation and policy experience, and Lawrence McDonough, a Minneapolis-based attorney with more than 30 years of civil litigation and knowledge of Minnesota landlord and tenant statues, will consult on the project. 

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an eviction suspension order on Sept. 1, 2020, many tenants are still unprotected. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an eviction moratorium as well that is more stringent, but if his order were to expire, the number of evictions would be unprecedented. Roughly 3,800 households in Minnesota are currently at risk of eviction.