A variety of factors are responsible for housing instability in low-income communities. In the Tar Heel state, the two most common causes are heir property and eviction, according to Legal Aid North Carolina, a nonprofit that provides legal advice to North Carolina residents to help them avoid displacement and homelessness.
Predominantly seen in Black and rural communities in the state, heir property refers to arrangements whereby homes and land are passed down outside of the courts, often through families and over several generations. Issues arise when family members die without leaving a will.
Then there’s eviction, which affects low-income communities everywhere.
But with a $450,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation, Legal Aid NC plans to target both of these causes—and expand housing justice services for homeowners and renters in this region.
The statewide law firm provides free legal help in civil matters to low-income people who are often battling legal problems that affect basic human needs, including caring for family, finding housing, continuing education, finding employment, and receiving income.
The two-year grant will be divided into two segments: $300,000 of the funds will go toward launching Legal Aid’s Heir Property Pro Bono Project, an effort to involve the law firm in heir property work within the region.
The Heir Property Pro Bono Project will partner with the North Carolina Bar Association’s Real Property Section to recruit North Carolina real estate lawyers and paralegals that can help heir property owners formalize their homeownership and resolve complex issues that arise from not having clear titles to their home and land. Lawyers will help property owners establish clear title to their home and land in order to preserve generational wealth in families and affordable housing in low-income communities.
Overall, the grant is aimed to provide opportunities for more people to