ECLAA = free legal help on civil law crises for low-income Essex County NJ residents

What we learned from our data, notably about evictions.

Here is a summary of who we helped in 2018.

Numbers of People:

Number of clients helped: 1,101

Number of people helped in client households: 3,124

Number of children in client households: 1,202

Where Our Clients Live:

Newark: 57%

East Orange: 14%

Irvington: 11%

Orange: 4%

Livingston: 5%

Bloomfield: 2%

Montclair: 2%

West Orange: 1%

Maplewood: 1%

Belleville: 2%

All others combined (Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Glen Ridge, Millburn, Nutly, South Orange, Verona, West Caldwell): 2%

Ages of Our Clients:

Age 18-59: 86%

Age 60+: 14%

Race/Hispanic (Fed Govt categories):

Black: 78%

Hispanic: 14%

White: 8%

Native American: 1%

Asian/Pacific Islander: less than 1%

Gender of Our Clients:

Female: 73%

Male: 27%

Types of Cases:

Housing - Landlord Tenant: 95%

Consumer Finance: 3%

Family: 1%

Other (Education, Employment, Juvenile, Health, Income Maintenance, Individual Rights, Misc.): 1%

Types of Services We Provided:

Brief Counsel and Advice: 86%

Brief Services/Limited Action: 9%

Referral After Legal Assessment: 5%

Legal Representation of Tenants: <1%

Our Clients' Income Sources:

Employment: 54%

Social Security: 18%

Unemployment: 5%

Welfare: 7%

SSI: 6%

All other sources combined: 9%

Here are some noteworthy trends since 2010.

Our clients are far more likely to be employed in 2018 than our clients were in 2010 -- rising from 38% to 54%.  Social Security has risen as an income source from 11% to 18% of our clients.  At the same time, unemployment insurance dropped as our clients' income source from 19% to 5%, and welfare dropped from 13% to 7%.  SSI has dropped from 8% to 6%. 

We help lower-income clients in 2018 who are far more likely to be working (54%) or receiving Social Security income (18%) earned by working.  

The so-called "working poor" or are at increasing risk of eviction. 

Over those years from 2010-2018, the percentage of our cases that are Landlord-Tenant matters has grown dramatically and steadily from 65% in 2010 to 95% last year.  

Evictions are a disruptive danger to our clients and their families.

Also worth noting is that the percentage of cases ECLAA can refer to other organizations for representation has plummeted from 14% in 2010 to just 5% last year. Dramatic cuts in available IOLTA resources and in LSC funding have affected LSNJ/ENLS's available legal aid for housing matters.


There are fewer resources for tenants elsewhere. 

 in 4Q2017, ECLAA began to represent tenants in Landlord-Tenant matters and is working to grow the number of tenants we can represent.  Such ECLAA representation will meet at least some of the massive unmet need for tenant representation in Landlord-Tenant hearings in the Essex Vicinage. Each year, there are over 40,000 Landlord-Tenant summonses in Essex County, and the vast majority affect families facing imminent eviction from their homes.  Currently, ECLAA funding allows us to help only about 1,000 tenants each year -- just 2.5% of the total number of L-T hearings in Essex County. 

ECLAA is prepared to meet more of the unmet needs of tens of thousands of lower-income tenants -- if funded.

ECLAA is seeking financial support for added Landlord-Tenant court services for low-income tenants.  We are working with a variety of interested parties whose attention has focused on evictions to find meaningful sustainable funding.  These strategic allies currently include the City of Newark, a new nonprofit based in Princeton called EvictionLab, our local law schools, attorneys at corporations and law firms willing to do such tenant representation pro bono, and paralegal students seeking to learn via community service.  

If you are aware of foundations and other public or private grantmakers interested in finding solutions to the eviction crisis in our communities (through direct service to tenants or through public policy advocacy), please contact ECLAA's Bob Adler at or at (908) 672-0738.

please help assure that poverty is not an impenetrable barrier to civil justice in Essex County N.J.

Each $150 covers all of the costs of providing free emergency legal assistance to a low-income client and her family when facing a civil law crisis -- most often an imminent eviction from their home.

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card