Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), a statewide nonprofit offering full legal representation to low-income Marylanders, today announced that Steven Kappen, Esq., and Steven Messmer, Esq., have been hired as the organization’s new tangled title staff attorneys.
MVLS is also the recipient of this year’s Thome Aging Well Program funding from Enterprise Community Partners. MVLS will use funds in the amount of $284,879 to provide legal and estate planning assistance to nearly 400 low-income senior citizens – primarily in Baltimore and on the Eastern Shore – to help preserve and pass on wealth in many of their historically disinvested neighborhoods.
“Homeownership is one of the most important tools for generating wealth, especially in Maryland’s Black communities,” said MVLS Deputy Director Margaret Henn. “So, we’re excited to welcome Steven Kappen and Steven Messmer to oversee our My Home, My Deed, My Legacy program and help families in need preserve their transfer of intergenerational wealth. Their work will be particularly vital to many Black farmers on the Eastern Shore who have struggled to hold on to property that’s been in their family for generations.”
Kappen recently served as an administrative assistant for the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water and now will work primarily in Baltimore City to address tangled title issues. “I am excited to provide critical services to people who absolutely need it,” he said. “I am eager to join MVLS and be part of a team that has so many energized, committed professionals. And I look forward to helping dismantle barriers to justice.”
Messmer, who was a law clerk for Maryland REALTORS and also clerked for Frost Law, will help expand MVLS’ tangled title program to the Eastern Shore and also provide services in Baltimore. “I am thrilled to join MVLS because it is a nonprofit legal services provider dedicated to making a tangible difference in the lives of low-income individuals,” said Messmer. “The opportunity to work on heirs’ property or tangled title cases is particularly exciting as it addresses a critical issue where homes are left in legal limbo, preventing people from fully utilizing their own property and receiving their rightful inheritance.”
MVLS often assists people with tangled title issues connected to housing, foreclosure and the lack of state program accessibility due to their name not being on the deed to their home. Tangled titles exacerbate issues such as tax sale, lack of estate planning and administration, and ground rent. These civil legal issues are incredibly difficult to face without full legal representation. To assist in this effort, MVLS staff attorneys and volunteers host a bi-monthly My Home, My Deed, My Legacy clinic.
MVLS also partners with several organizations and individuals who support housing stabilization, including the Abell Foundation, Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Maryland Legal Services Corporation, PNC Foundation, Truist Foundation and Wells Fargo Foundation. For a full list of supporters, visit mvlslaw.org/annual-report.
Kappen is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law and a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Oklahoma. He can be reached at 443-451-4092 or email@example.com.
Messmer graduated magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law and was a Royal Graham Shannonhouse III Honor Society scholar. He can be reached at 443-451-4067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about MVLS staff, please visit www.mvlslaw.org.
About Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS)
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) removes barriers to justice through free civil legal help, community engagement, and advocacy for equitable laws. The organization matches clients with volunteer lawyers, tax professionals and staff attorneys who represent them in a wide range of consumer finance, family and housing situations, including foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce/custody, deed changes, as well as income tax disputes, estate planning, and criminal record relief. MVLS advocates for racial equity in Maryland’s legal system and works in concert with community partners to move toward a fair legal system that is free of injustice and equitably serves underrepresented Marylanders. For more information about MVLS, please visit www.mvlslaw.org.
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS)