Archives

Written by Adam Jacobs

Mar 29

2021

Reflections of a Domestic Violence Attorney

More than a year ago, on March 13, 2020, our lives changed drastically. Seemingly overnight, stay-at-home orders were put in place and most of the country started working from home. Here, at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, we quickly shifted our practice from an in-person office setting to a virtual one. In the Domestic Violence/Family Law Unit, we had to figure out how to provide our services to domestic violence survivors under our new normal. Read more →

Mar 26

2021

USDA Withdraws Appeal in Legal Aid Lawsuit Challenging SNAP Rule

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the USDA) withdrew its appeal of a decision last October from Judge Beryll Howell of the federal District Court of the District of Columbia vacating a USDA rule that would have cut off access to SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps, for nearly 700,000 Americans, including more than 13,000 DC residents. Legal Aid and Alston and Bird represented Bread for the City and two individual clients (Damon Smith and Geneva Tann) in a challenge to the rule that was combined with a similar suit filed by the District of Columbia on behalf of itself, nineteen states and New York City. Read more →

Mar 15

2021

Legal Aid Applauds the Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act Which Could Cut Child Poverty Rates in Half Nationwide and Lift Thousands of District Children Out of Poverty

On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act which will provide direct assistance to individuals and families (including a child allowance for low- and moderate-income families), continuation of unemployment benefits, funds to states and localities, and financial support for vaccinations and schools. Read more →

Mar 08

2021

New Hotline at OAH Provides Help to Pro Se Litigants

In the early months of the pandemic, the Office of Administrative Hearings Legal Assistance Network (OLAN) was created by four legal services organizations to address the legal needs of individuals representing themselves (also known as pro se litigants) before the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The network includes Bread for the City, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. OLAN is a referral hotline that connects pro se litigants who have pending public benefits and shelter-related cases before OAH with free attorneys. Read more →

Feb 18

2021

Critical Foreclosure Prevention Program Reopens for District Homeowners

The DC Housing Finance Agency (HFA) has recently announced the reopening of HomeSaver, a foreclosure prevention program that provides payment assistance to DC homeowners who are behind on their mortgage or other housing-related payments. For qualified homeowners, HomeSaver provides up to $60,000 in lump-sum catch-up assistance and/or ongoing monthly payment assistance. Homeowners may qualify if they experienced an eligible hardship, and are either (1) unemployed or underemployed and no more than 16 months behind on their payments, or (2) able to afford their regular monthly payments going forward but need help paying arrears.

Homeowners should apply now, as funds are limited and applications will only be accepted through May 14. Read more →

Feb 11

2021

Legal Aid Testifies Before the Council and Joins Amicus Filing In Support of Emergency Eviction Protections During the Pandemic

This past Thursday, the D.C. Council’s Committees on Judiciary and Public Safety, Housing and Executive Administrative, and Human Services held a joint public oversight roundtable to examine the impact of emergency legislation that was enacted in the early months of the pandemic to protect tenants from actual evictions, new eviction case filings, and new eviction notices.  The aim of these measures was to keep as many District residents as possible in stable housing throughout the pandemic, preventing displacement and additional spread of COVID-19. Read more →

Feb 01

2021

Administration’s Strike Force Charged With Tackling Eviction and Affordable Housing Crisis Is Stacked With Landlord and Developer Representatives

On Friday, Mayor Bowser announced the composition of the “Saving DC’s Rental Housing Market Strike Force.” Despite being tasked with making recommendations to prevent eviction and increase the supply of affordable housing, twelve out of the Strike Force’s eighteen non-government members represent landlords, developers, or their interests. Only three members represent tenants or their interests. Legal Aid is concerned by the lack of tenant voices, eviction defense lawyers, homeless services providers, and tenant organizers on the Strike Force. If the Strike Force’s recommendations are to be given any weight or treated with any seriousness, the Mayor must fix this gross imbalance. Read more →

Dec 18

2020

Last Chance To File – Federal Unemployment Benefits End on December 26

As coronavirus cases surge across the country and many workplaces remain closed, the U.S. Congress has failed to extend critical benefits for unemployed workers. In fact, approximately 39,000 unemployment recipients in the District will lose all benefits the day after Christmas.

As we wrote earlier this year, unemployment compensation is a critical safety net for jobless workers. It can allow District workers to pay for basic necessities – such as food, shelter, and medical care – and avoid falling into poverty. There is no cash assistance alternative to unemployment compensation. Legal Aid urgently calls upon Congress to extend these essential benefits and encourages District workers to act now to take advantage of these programs before they expire (see below). Read more →

Dec 11

2020

Action Needed to Stop Ice Detentions at DC Courthouse

Within a week, the District’s immigrant community may finally get permanent protection against ICE detention after contact with local law enforcement. On December 15, 2020, the DC Council is scheduled to vote on the Sanctuary Values Act, which would make permanent an emergency law passed in 2019. If passed, this law could lift some of the terror our immigrant neighbors and their families have faced for many years. Read more →

Oct 27

2020

Pro Bono Goes Local Event Kicks Off DC Pro Bono Week

This year’s Pro Bono Goes Local kickoff celebration marking the start of DC Pro Bono Week was held on Monday, October 26. The event is an opportunity to gather the legal community together to celebrate pro bono service and emphasize the importance of directing that service locally to help District residents in need of representation in our local courts. DC Pro Bono Week is organized each year by the Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) and a committee of pro bono professionals representing legal services organizations, law firms, and law schools from around the city.

This year’s Pro Bono Goes Local virtual program was moderated by WCL’s Executive Director Nancy Lopez. Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby of the D.C. Court of Appeals and Chief Judge Anita Josey-Herring of the D.C. Superior Court provided opening remarks where they extended their gratitude to those who have handled local pro cases and emphasized that now more than ever- due in part to the challenges that DC residents are experiencing as a result of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic- DC residents need pro bono attorneys. Read more →