Submitted by mbrodbeck on Tue, 08/31/2021 - 09:32
Acting CEO Mal Coles

US Attorney General Merrick Garland issued today a call to action in response to the growing housing and evictions crisis in so many in our communities.

As an organization steeped in a long history of tackling inequity and financial hardships, AmeriCorps is ready to answer this call. Our AmeriCorps VISTA program is wholly devoted to eradicating poverty in rural and urban communities. AmeriCorps Seniors, NCCC, and State and National programs all serve to improve our neighborhoods, one day at a time.

And as part of the Administration’s Build Back Better plan, our members and volunteers are laser-focused on delivering programs that help prepare young Americans for the workforce; develop skills which lead to high-quality jobs; expand and create educational opportunities during a time when education has become unaffordable for too many. In short, AmeriCorps is committed to serving Americans wherever there is need.

Today, there is no doubt that young Americans, older individuals, and families of every size are suffering. Now that the federal eviction moratorium ended, people are incredibly frightened and in need of relief. The federal government has supplied Emergency Rental Assistance to provide significant economic relief to individuals. However, since evictions are subject to state laws and local regulations, there is no national “one size fits all” solution. That doesn’t change the clear message from Attorney General Garland: this relief needs to get in the hands of those who need it immediately.

The Attorney General, state court leaders, and advocates acknowledge that individuals need help accessing this relief right now and without delay.

AmeriCorps, and the national service community, can help meet this moment and accept the Attorney General’s call to action by working in our local communities to support those in need.

How can you help?

Attorney General Garland’s letter provides specific suggestions for how you can help one of the more than 6 million American households who are at risk of losing their homes. Four top suggestions include:

  1. Asking our legal and community support organizations to make a commitment to offer pro bono hours and identify, in each local jurisdiction, the legal service providers who can aid in providing direct help and counseling to those who need it most.
  2. Providing legal counsel or representation to help mediate disputes and, if there are court proceedings, assistance navigating the courts.
  3. Supporting state courts, which are being encouraged to adopt eviction diversion strategies. If you are interested in assisting, perhaps by acting as a mediator or appointed counsel, contact your local court to determine if such a program exists, who is eligible to provide assistance, and how to engage with their efforts.
  4. Sharing this information and a video statement from Attorney General Garland far and wide on your social channels and throughout your communities.

Together, the AmeriCorps family is more than 1.2 million strong. Our collective voice, combined with your expertise and commitment to serve, can help ensure that no person in need of assistance is left wanting. I’m asking you to again stand with AmeriCorps to help those who need us most.

In service,

Mal Coles
Acting Chief Executive Officer