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Baltimore Renters Turn to Judge Judy to Navigate Eviction Flood

Tenant advocates decry system in crisis that steamrolls the poor.
Baltimore Neighborhood of Sandtown Winchester, where Eddie Gray lived.
Photographer: Lance Rosenfield/The Washington Post/Getty Images

"Rent court'' is a Baltimore institution where landlords try to force tenants to pay up or get out. It may also be a good place to gauge how America’s urban poor are faring in the face of affordable housing shortages and rampant gentrification. The answer is not good.

Baltimore is second only to Detroit in eviction cases, and the Maryland city's landlords will file more than 150,000 complaints with the court by year's end, according to a report by the Public Justice Center, a local nonprofit that offers free legal representation in civil cases. At last count, that's about 30,000 more cases than there are Baltimore renters, a striking ratio even with some tenants getting multiple complaints.