Making Justice Real

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

Mar 26

2015

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When DC’s TANF “Reform” Hurts More Than It Helps

Programs aimed at helping the poor, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, make an easy target. In recent years at least twelve states have passed laws mandating drug testing or screening of TANF applicants or recipients. Although not all of this legislation has withstood judicial scrutiny, these laws reflect the distrust with which some of our nation’s government officials seem to view the parents who rely on assistance to help support their families. Read more →

Mar 24

2015

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Legal Aid Earns Charity Navigator’s 4-Star Rating Again

We are proud to announce that Legal Aid has once again received Charity Navigator’s highest rating – four out of four stars – for sound fiscal management, accountability, and transparency. Charity Navigator is America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities, providing donors with essential information to give them greater confidence in the charitable choices they make.
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Mar 19

2015

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D.C. Bar Foundation Funds New Project to Provide Counsel to Tenants in Subsidized Housing

Among the 23 projects that the D.C. Bar Foundation (DCBF) announced last week that it will support is a major new collaboration to provide critically-needed legal assistance to low-income District residents at risk of being evicted from subsidized housing. This new project, featured in a recent Blog of the Legal Times piece, is the culmination of a two-year collaboration by members of the local legal services community, the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program to address the lack of safe, affordable, accessible, and stable housing for low-income people in the District of Columbia. Legal Aid, Bread for the City, and Legal Counsel for the Elderly will be the recipients of the DCBF funds to implement this new project, with others including the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program joining as important partners in the effort. Read more →

Mar 16

2015

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Legal Aid Testifies About Systemic Errors by D.C. Department of Human Services

Last Thursday, March 12, Legal Aid and the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) delivered joint testimony before the D.C. Council’s Committee on Health and Human Services concerning the systemic errors plaguing service delivery by the Economic Security Administration (ESA) of the D.C. Department of Human Services.

ESA is responsible for administering crucial safety net benefits on which District residents depend, including food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and public health insurance programs like Medicaid and D.C. Healthcare Alliance. To access these benefits, District residents must come to Service Centers administered by ESA. Our clients have long reported that conducting business at these Service Centers is untenable due to exceedingly long lines, incorrect information from staff, and poor document processing, among other issues.

Our testimony summarized findings from interviews that Legal Aid and several other organizations—Whitman-Walker Health, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Bread for the City, and Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP—conducted with individuals standing in line at three ESA Service Centers—those at Taylor Street NW, H Street NE, and Anacostia—at least one morning per week throughout February 2015. Over our twelve visits, we observed over 550 people waiting in line before these service centers opened and interviewed 309 of these individuals. Read more →

Mar 13

2015

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Federal Consumer Protection Agency Issues Report on Forced Arbitration Clauses

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a final report detailing the use of forced arbitration agreements in consumer financial services contracts. As we wrote last week, these clauses – which prevent consumers from being able to sue in court – significantly reduce options for consumers when creditors violate consumer protection laws. Read more →