On November 14, 2022, MVLS’ Tangled Title Attorney, Tim Chance and MVLS received recognition from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation for their work with the My Home, My Deed, My Legacy program. Chance, along with two other recipients, received the 2022 Rising Star Award, which is presented to an attorney who has practiced law for less than ten years and has significantly contributed to expanding access to justice by serving the civil legal needs of low-income Marylanders or advancing the delivery of civil legal services. Chance and the My Home, My Deed, My Legacy program are working to address the widening racial wealth gap in Maryland, and specifically Baltimore, through disentangling titles in Black communities.
Due to the myriad of policies (such as redlining, blockbusting, and overassessment) that have led directly to the extraction of wealth in Black communities, estate planning and estate administration are two tools that MVLS has leaned on to keep families in their homes and wealth in their families. American society is controlled by systems which impact every aspect of life. Homeownership is one of the most critical generators of wealth building in this country and estate planning allows MVLS’ clients to protect that wealth and to pass that wealth down to future generations. Owning a home provides a family with a place to live, but also provides a stable mortgage payment so the family does not have to worry about rising rent costs. Also, there are significant tax deductions for homeowners that facilitate the accumulation of wealth.
Unfortunately, due to the scourge of tangled titles in Baltimore, many Black families have lost or are at great risk of losing that wealth. That’s why the work to disentangle titles that is happening in the My Home, My Deed, My Legacy program is so important. MVLS has recently implemented some major changes to the program that will allow for even more to be done. MVLS is partnering with Fight Blight Bmore to determine the exact number of tangled titles in Baltimore and to do direct outreach to those households. Also, sometimes legal assistance is not enough to disentangle a deed. MVLS now has a limited Tangled Title Fund that will allow some clients to satisfy any outstanding municipal bills that may hinder the transfer of title. MVLS has been able to do so much good in the past few years in this effort, but so much more remains to be done.