Lifetime Champion of Justice Award
Jim Barrett
Executive Director of Pisgah Legal Services
Preventing homelessness for low-income residents of WNC has been a core part of Pisgah Legal Service’s Mission from the beginning. In addition to their staff attorneys, Pisgah Legal leverages their work by coordinating the efforts of over 300 volunteer attorneys that also represent clients. Furthermore, Pisgah Legal Services does not wait for low-income clients to come to them. Knowing that low-income people who have been served with eviction may not even be aware that they need an attorney, they have positioned staff and volunteer housing attorneys inside the Buncombe County Courthouse, so that the presiding judge can direct them to an attorney. In 2019 alone, more than 325 people avoided or delayed eviction due to that program.

  • In addition to the legal advice they provide their clients, they have:
    – Helped craft tenant friendly housing codes for counties across Western North Carolina.
    – Advocated for zoning and land use plans to increase the stock of affordable housing.
    – Convened shareholders to create an affordable housing plan that developed recommendations, many of which are currently being implemented.
    – Helped develop Asheville’s Ten Year Plan to Prevent Homelessness.
    – Provides education to the community members on avoiding eviction and foreclosure.
    – Is a regular source to WNC media outlets on housing issues.
  • Their advocacy efforts have changed government policies regarding housing. They are currently providing leadership in collaboration with other groups, including the NC Justice Center, to address the looming eviction crisis.