Letter from the Executive Director
This year the DC Bar Foundation launched a new program to address DC’s housing crisis. It’s called the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program (CLCPP), and it is life-changing for low-income DC residents like Lucy.
Lucy was scheduled to be evicted from her home on a Friday, just ahead of her daughter starting the new year at their neighborhood school.
On Thursday, she went to Landlord and Tenant Court, where she met a lawyer from our grantee DC Law Students in Court. During intake, the attorney learned that Lucy had applied for, and been granted, rental assistance from a local services agency. But the agency had been unable to connect with the landlord to confirm where payment should be sent.
With this knowledge, the legal aid team drafted an application to stay the writ of eviction and went before the court that same day. Through a stay and by connecting with the local agency, rental assistance went through to the landlord and stopped the eviction permanently. Lucy and her child kept a roof over their heads and were in their neighborhood for the first day of school.
Countless stories like Lucy’s unfold each year in the District, but too often they don’t have happy endings. Only a small percentage of residents like Lucy get access to legal representation, dramatically increasing their chances of losing their homes and subsidies.
But we’re working to change that. We are proud to be designated the administrator of this new program providing free legal services to low-income DC tenants at risk of losing their homes. It’s a big step forward for our most vulnerable neighbors.
The program is addressing DC’s housing crisis at a time when other funding is scarce. In the past year alone, the DC Bar Foundation has awarded more than $4 million in eviction-defense grants, targeting legal aid to wards with greatest need.
And the need is great. Did you know?
- 18.6% of District residents live in poverty – one of the highest rates in the nation.
- At least 39,000 low-income households in the District pay more than half of their income for rent, a 16% increase since 2007.
- Last year DC landlords filed more than 30,000 eviction cases, roughly 95% alleging nonpayment of rent.
Now, lawyers funded by the DC Bar Foundation are located in the Landlord and Tenant Court every day, providing free legal services to low-income District residents. The new program plays a crucial role in offsetting housing hardships, and it establishes DC as a national leader addressing fundamental human needs like housing, health, and safety.
As we reflect on 2018, all of us at DCBF are grateful for this new opportunity to profoundly impact lives like Lucy’s and her child’s. Thank you for your continued support and engagement, which makes it all possible!
Kirra L. Jarratt
Tags: Issue 29 (December 2018)