Law school partners with Raleigh to provide eviction assistance to residents

RALEIGH — The Raleigh City Council approved funding for a partnership with the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law on Tuesday to serve low-income residents who are facing eviction and homelessness.

The City of Raleigh Housing Justice Project with Campbell Law School will be a legal clinic run by lawyers and law students. The council’s approved action provides $300,000 in funding ($100,000 per year for three years) from the American Rescue Plan Act. Funding will support the clinic’s mission to provide advice and counsel as well as legal representation to eligible Raleigh residents in eviction proceedings.

Eligible residents must live in Raleigh and be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Law School Dean J. Rich Leonard, who presented the partnership proposal during the May 3 city council meeting, said the funding will expand the work of the School’s Blanchard Community Law Clinic to include housing issues, especially eviction defense.

“This is the sort of partnership that only can happen because the law school is in downtown Raleigh,” Leonard said. “It is a remarkable opportunity to provide desperately needed services to Raleigh residents, while at the same time imparting valuable advocacy skills to our students in an important substantive area.” 

The Blanchard Community Law Clinic (BCLC) — which provides solutions to legal problems for city-wide nonprofit such as Alliance Medical Ministry,  StepUp Ministry, the Raleigh Rescue Mission and Urban Ministries — has served more than 1,200 clients since opening in 2016. According to Leonard, 136 law students have been trained there in the last five years. 

Raleigh Mayor Pro Tem Nicole Stewart said the city is proud to partner with Campbell Law School “to meet the needs of those facing eviction or housing insecurity.”

“This new resource will address a core need in our comprehensive approach to address housing affordability, supply and stability,” she said.

BCLC Director Ashley Campbell called the partnership an important initiative. 

“There is enormous need for housing legal services in Raleigh, and the Housing Justice Project is a step forward in meeting that need,” Campbell said.

The Housing Justice Project will be located in downtown Raleigh on Martin Street and is expected to open in late summer.

“Addressing our community’s housing needs is one of the city’s top priorities,” said At-Large City Council Member Jonathan Melton. “This exciting partnership with Campbell Law School will help ensure that individuals and families who are most at risk have the support and resources they need to stay in their homes.”

Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. In 2021, Campbell Law celebrated 45 years of graduating legal leaders and 12 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.