Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Homeless Prevention Project volunteers call it a labor of love. Since the project began in 2014, volunteers have faithfully taught more than 3,000 residents during one-hour classes at Crisis Assistance Ministry.
The goal, according to Hannah Guerrier who co-coordinates the project, is “to empower tenants with information regarding their legal rights and the eviction process, in hopes of preventing increased homelessness in Mecklenburg County.”
Her co-coordinator, Tonia Trammell, actually started out as one of those volunteers before joining the Legal Aid staff. “Many tenants don’t realize they have rights in the process,” she says. “When you hear that someone won their case because of what they learned through this project, that’s powerful.”
With 30,000 evictions a year in Mecklenburg County, the team says the epidemic far exceeds the organization’s capacity to represent each affected tenant. Volunteers extend their reach and help residents speak up for themselves.
“What’s at risk is someone’s home—all the things that come with that stability—kids going to school, keeping your possessions, being able to hold down a job,” says Hannah. “That’s worth more than money.”