Mayor and Local Housing Advocates Launch "More Representation Minneapolis"

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The Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA), along with a group of twelve area law firms, have joined forces to combat the growing problem of unrepresented litigants in housing court. Their initiative - More Representation Minneapolis - will bring an increased cohort of pro bono attorneys to the aid of low-income tenants in eviction defense and rent escrow/tenant remedy actions in 2019. VLN and MMLA will anchor the More Representation Minneapolis project, which has a short-term goal of adding 25 additional attorneys to VLN’s network, and increasing their housing representation work by 20 percent.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the project will help prevent unfair evictions by utilizing the existing resources in our legal community, and it dovetails with the $150,000 in his 2019 proposed city budget to launch a pilot project to fund legal services for low-income renters facing displacement.

Speaking to the Star Tribune, Luke Grundman, managing attorney of the housing unit at MMLA, said, “People have nowhere to go. If you have an eviction on your record, it’s almost impossible [to find housing].”

Read more about More Representation Minneapolis in the Minnesota Lawyer.

CMLS Attorney to be Honored at MJF’s Annual Awards Celebration November 7

Elizabeth F. Sauer

Elizabeth F. Sauer

This Wednesday, November 7, marks Minnesota Justice Foundation’s Annual Awards Celebration. Every year since 1991, MJF has honored the work of public interest attorneys, private pro bono attorneys, advocates, and law students whose commitment to service shines as a beacon of hope and embodies the very best of our profession.

This year, MJF’s award for Outstanding Service by a Direct Legal Services provider will go to Elizabeth F. Sauer, supervising attorney at Central Minnesota Regional Legal Services (CMLS).

Sauer has been the housing supervising attorney at CMLS since May 2017, with over seven years of prior service as a staff attorney. While she focuses on housing law, her caseload also includes family law cases, predominantly Orders for Protection. Her advocacy skills and legal knowledge exceed expectations for her seniority at CMLS, and she handles hundreds of housing cases on an annual basis. Countless tenants in Hennepin and Anoka counties have avoided homelessness because of Sauer’s outstanding advocacy.

Sauer has become an expert in subsidized housing law, and CMLS attorneys who have cases involving vouchers, as well as attorneys from other legal aid programs, regularly consult with her on their own cases. She mentors CMLS attorneys in all the program’s offices, and provides counsel to other attorneys in Minnesota, thereby improving advocacy for clients statewide.

Sauer has represented over a thousand clients during her career, and through her mentoring of others, has impacted hundreds more cases. She is always on the look-out for new ways to apply the law to ensure that clients remain housed, and that their housing is in good repair.  Her work recognizes the essential role that housing plays in a client’s success in all areas of life. 

MJF’s 2018 award winners also include Timothy McLarnan of McLarnan & Skatvold – Moorhead, recipient of the Private Practice Award; Imani Jaafar of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, recipient of the Advocate Award; and law students Royzetta Evans of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Dr. Susan Craig, M. D. of the University of Minnesota Law School, and Jonathan Snyder of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

There’s still time to get a ticket to the Annual Awards Celebration. Click here for more information and to reserve your ticket.

Mayo Clinic Recognizes SMRLS, LAOC, and Partners With Shared Value Award

Rochester’s famed Mayo Clinic lauded Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) and Legal Assistance of Olmsted County (LAOC) this month for their efforts to prevent evictions in Olmsted County. Along with collaborators Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Olmsted County District Court, LAOC and SMRLS received the 2018 Mayo Clinic Shared Value Award for their “Eviction Prevention” project.  

Mayo’s annual award addresses community-wide health priorities in Olmsted County, and the Eviction Prevention project is designed to help address financial stress and mental health.

Karen Fairbairn Nath, executive director of LAOC noted, “Once a notice of eviction is filed with the court, the eviction is permanently on an individual’s record and may, at minimum, prevent a person from obtaining future rental housing. This often brings on a cascading set of negative effects, including longer-term financial instability and mental health stress for individuals and families, among others.” Read more about the project and award.

MMLA's North Minneapolis Collaborations Featured in Attorney at Law Magazine

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Thanks to funding from philanthropic, social services, and government sources, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) has four new projects in two locations to serve the needs of North Minneapolis residents. 

At NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, Legal Aid's newest medical-legal partnership had more than 50 patient referrals in the first two months, underscoring the unmet need.

"Referrals come directly from health care staff," says staff attorney, Glen Drew. "I see so many health concerns that neither doctors nor lawyers can solve on our own. This is an opportunity for us to ask the right questions and make some headway on broader social questions and problems."

Legal Aid's work in the NorthPoint Social Services building also includes an attorney-staffed economic development project that recently hosted a criminal expungement workshop. A few blocks away at 800 West Broadway, Legal Aid holds office hours several times a month for pro bono workshops, as well as a Hennepin County based project focused on eviction prevention.

Because of the partnership between neighborhood social service agencies and legal aid, northside residents can access legal help without taking extra time off work or paying for transportation downtown. They can meet with a lawyer in the same building where they receive other services, and with professionals they already trust. Read the full article in Attorney at Law Magazine: "Legal Aid and Community Partners Collaborate in North Minneapolis."