Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Apr 24

2015

0

comments

Victory for Museum Square Tenants

Earlier this week, a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled that the owners of Museum Square, a 302-unit building populated entirely by low-income residents, failed to comply with D.C. law when they offered the building to the tenants with a sale price of $250 million – far in excess of the property’s market value. The offer of sale was a prerequisite to the landlord’s plan to demolish the building and replace it with high-end condominiums, apartments, and retail space. Last fall, the tenant association, represented by Legal Aid, Arnold & Porter, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, filed suit against the owner, claiming that $250 million was not a “bona fide offer of sale” as required by the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. The Court agreed, holding that the Act requires a price related to the current market value of the property and not a speculative future valuation.

The Washington City Paper covered the decision yesterday.

Apr 24

2015

0

comments

The Case For Reasonable Child Support Enforcement

As a native South Carolinian, I feel personally and profoundly impacted by the recent shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston. But as a legal services lawyer who specializes in family law, I cannot help but to think that what happened to Mr. Scott was avoidable in more ways than one.

When he was shot, Mr. Scott was fleeing from a police officer. In the immediate aftermath of that horrible and senseless tragedy, much of the public discourse has focused on police practices, and in particular, on the actions of the officers involved in the incident. Mr. Scott’s family members later revealed to reporters that they believed Mr. Scott ran from the officer because he feared that his child support debt would land him in jail, as it had done several times in the past. Read more →

Apr 23

2015

0

comments

Investigative Reporting on Domestic Violence wins Pulitzer

Earlier this week, the Pulitzer Prize committee awarded its prestigious Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism to the Post and Courier, a small Charleston, South Carolina newspaper, for its investigation series, “Till Death Do Us Part”. The seven part series, which provides an in depth examination of domestic violence in South Carolina, focused on the high rate of domestic violence related deaths in South Carolina, the impact of domestic violence on survivors, the impact of culture on domestic violence, the inadequate protections of the current laws, and the lack of resources for survivors in the state. Read more →

Apr 03

2015

0

comments

City Paper Article Highlights Shortcomings of Rapid Rehousing

Yesterday, the Washington City Paper published a provocative piece focusing largely on the District’s Rapid Rehousing program, which has been heralded in some corners as a solution for chronic family homelessness. However, as my colleague Shirley Horng recently testified, the clients we meet — like many of those featured in the article — tell a very different story.

The Rapid Rehousing program in the District of Columbia provides four-month rental subsidies, which can be extended for up to one year. After the conclusion of the subsidy, the family is left to pay the market-level rent on their own, without further support. The idea behind the program is that with this short-term assistance, the family can increase its income or take other steps to achieve financial independence. The idea is attractive, and the goal is laudable, but the reality is that Rapid Rehousing simply does not work for most families. Read more →

Apr 02

2015

0

comments

Former Legal Aid ED Jonathan Smith to Return to DC Poverty Law Community

 Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith

Legal Aid is delighted to pass along the news that UDC Law School has announced that former Executive Director Jonathan Smith will be UDC’s new Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs. Jonathan will oversee UDC Law School’s nationally-ranked clinic program which has established itself among the nation’s elite programs. In March 2015, US News & World Report ranked UDC Law School’s clinic program seventh nationally.

As I stated in the Law School’s press release, issued yesterday: “UDC is fortunate to have recruited Jonathan Smith as its newest dean. Jonathan is a deep thinker and visionary on poverty law issues. After accomplishing so much on the national stage, we are excited that he will once again be devoting his extraordinary talents and indefatigable nature to D.C.’s low-income community.”

We congratulate UDC Law School on this extraordinary hire!