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UMKC law school program has saved hundreds of tenants from eviction

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Magda Werkmeister, left, and, Tiana Caldwell chant while chained to a door on the west side of the Jackson County Courthouse on Thursday during the KC Tenants protest against eviction hearings.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
In Jackson County, Missouri, protestors have chained themselves to the courthouse doors in opposition to eviction hearings.

Staffed by Truman Fellows, the Tenant Representation Initiative was started to keep clients in their homes during the pandemic

When the federal eviction moratorium ended in August of 2021, eviction courts resumed hearing cases. Many renters found themselves in a legal environment without representation.

Enter the attorneys of the Tenant Representation Initiative. The team consists of four Truman Fellows, a managing attorney and three current law students serving as law clerks.

They joined with United Way which has the contract for both Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri, to administer Emergency Rental Assistance funds provided through federal pandemic legislation.

With funds available and each attorney handling 20-25 cases, the team estimates they have successfully settled up to 85% of their cases which often includes paying back rent and three months advance rent to landlords.

For cases that the initiative can't settle successfully United Way will try to find clients new housing which is in short supply in Kansas City.

  • Brian Larios, UMKC School of Law adjunct clinical professor and managing attorney for Tenant Representation Initiative
  • Kathleen Code, attorney and senior Truman Fellow

For renters in Jackson County or Kansas City, Missouri in need of legal representation in an eviction case, call United Way of Greater Kansas City at 2-1-1. Your information will be taken and forwarded to the Tenant Representation Initiative.

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