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MVLS awarded grant to provide homeownership, estate planning education

The state Department of Housing and Community development awarded a $97,000 grant to the largest pro bono legal service provider in Maryland to raise awareness about the importance of estate planning and homeownership services.

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service announced Wednesday it will work with the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development to run a citywide awareness campaign for city residents, particularly low to moderate-income individuals, about the importance of planning ahead to keep families in their homes, MVLS said in a press release.

“We are grateful to receive generous support from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development as we are strongly committed to assisting Baltimore City’s low-income, elderly and other vulnerable residents who face financial challenges in the areas of housing and financial stability,” said Susan Francis, deputy director of MVLS and member of Baltimore City’s Commission for Aging and Retirement Education, in a statement.“Improperly recorded deeds, and other housing-related legal documents can pose a number of barriers for low-income homeowners to receive housing-related assistance and avoid foreclosure, tax sale and their homes falling into disrepair.”

The grant will also let MVLS and the city provide tools on how to get legal assistance related to estate planning and homeownership issues. Beginning early next year, MVLS will also hold four clinics with volunteer attorneys, community resources and referral information. The city and MVLS will also provide educational materials on importance of planning, including the creating a will, taking steps to avoid probate and how to make sure someone is the legal owner of their home.

“Something as simple as ensuring a homeowner is listed on the deed to their home can be vital to stabilizing that family and their neighborhood for several generations,” Francis said.

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