Archives

Written by Adam Jacobs

Jul 25

2022

DC Council Committees Must Approve the Domestic Worker Protections Bill This Fall

Legal Aid is deeply concerned about Chair Mendelson’s recent decision to change the committee referral for the Domestic Worker Employment Rights Amendment Act of 2022 (Bill 24-712). As a strong supporter of the Domestic Worker Employment Rights bill, we believe his re-referral could effectively stall the bill’s progress during the final year of Council Period 24. This triple referral causes an unnecessary delay that will hurt essential workers, such as home health aides, to whom we regularly provide direct legal services. Legal Aid urges Business Committee Chairman McDuffie and Government Operations Committee Chairman Robert White to consider and mark up the measure immediately (September or October) when the Council returns from recess so that the Council can pass the bill before the end of the year. Read more →

Jun 06

2022

The District Must Open its Homeowner Assistance Fund Immediately and Extend the Foreclosure Moratorium to Protect Homeowners Waiting on Federal Assistance Funds

The District’s foreclosure moratorium for owner-occupied homes is set to expire on June 30, but the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), which will provide $50 million in federal funds to help DC homeowners catch up on their mortgages and other housing-related payments, is still not open. This unacceptable delay leaves homeowners who have struggled in the wake of the pandemic and the uneven economic recovery at risk of losing their homes — even though there is funding available to help them. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has had 5 months since the Federal Government approved its plan for using these funds, and the delay makes DC one of the last jurisdictions in the country to fully open its HAF program. DCHD must open HAF now so that homeowners can access these potentially life-changing funds. Meanwhile, the DC Council should pass emergency legislation extending the foreclosure moratorium and strengthening protections for homeowners who submit applications once the program is open. These steps are crucial to preventing DC residents from needlessly losing their homes due to the DC Government’s continued struggle to get help to them. Read more →

Jun 06

2022

Tenants Win a Legal Battle to Protect Their Rights Under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act

Recently the DC Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a group of tenants who have been fighting for years to protect their rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). DC Council first passed TOPA in 1980. Back then, like today, DC was facing an affordable housing crisis. For over forty years, TOPA has continued to serve DC tenants—particularly low-income tenants—helping them fight displacement and maintain at least some control over the future of their homes. The ruling from the Court of Appeals last week protects the power of TOPA for DC tenants. Read more →

Jun 01

2022

DC Council Bill Seeks to Create Abortion & LGBTQ+ Healthcare Sanctuary

Earlier this month, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and nine of her colleagues introduced the “Human Rights Sanctuary Amendment Act of 2022,” which would, in Councilmember Nadeau’s words, “protect[] the rights of District residents to live with whom they please, love whom they love, and control their reproductive destinies. It makes the District a safe haven for trans youth who need gender-affirming care, LGBTQ+ individuals who need to preserve their families, and all people who need reproductive freedom to flourish as meaningful participants in American life.” Read more →

Apr 21

2022

The Connection Between Health and Wealth: Recent Report Highlights the Impact of Medical Debt on Black Families

A recent report from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) examines the racial health and wealth gaps and highlights the impact of medical debt on Black families. The report provides a sobering explanation of how disparities in healthcare and medical debt are a result of underlying, pervasive racial inequality. Unfortunately, these issues and impacts are all too familiar to District residents and Legal Aid’s client community. Read more →

Feb 16

2022

An Unemployment Victory for One Client Could Mean Fewer Hurdles for Many More Moving Forward

On February 3, 2022, the District Columbia Court of Appeals released its opinion in Young v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES), awarding unemployment benefits to Legal Aid client Ashley Young. The central issue in the case was whether DOES could deny back benefits to Ms. Young after she failed to respond to an email (which she never received) asking her to fill out a quality control questionnaire. Much later, when Ms. Young found out about the questionnaire, she filled it out and began to receive benefits going forward, but DOES refused to give her payments for the time before she filled out the questionnaire. Read more →

Oct 26

2021

Spotlight–Survivor Anna Jones

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we honor our clients like Anna Jones, who has bravely shared her own story and given us a somber reminder about the many parents and children who have yet to reach safety. Hear more from Anna here:

Oct 25

2021

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status—An Option for Some Immigrant Child Survivors

When I met Dalia, she was as quiet as the grave. She had good reason to be withdrawn and mistrustful, hiding even her eyes behind her hair. When Dalia was a few months old, her mother fled from domestic violence in El Salvador to the United States, leaving her daughter behind with a substance-abusing father. After years of being passed around to distracted relatives, Dalia’s father was shot and killed by the police when a drug deal went awry.

Dalia became a street child, sleeping in a shed and gathering scrap metal. One day her mother finally managed to gather together the money to have Dalia transported by smugglers on the dangerous journey through Mexico to the Texas border. Like most children arriving in the US without a parent, Dalia was placed in a detention center (or “foster”) facility funded by the Department of Health and Human Services for about a month before being released to live with her mom here in DC. And like every other immigrant and refugee, Dalia has no right to a public defender for her pending deportation case. Kids like Dalia, no matter how young, must navigate a hostile and complex immigration system, in English, with whatever resources their guardians can spare. Organizations like Legal Aid can only meet a fraction of the need for free and affordable services to fill the gap. Read more →

Oct 21

2021

Reminder Not to Miss DC Pro Bono Week Events

Ready to learn more about local pro bono opportunities and kick off DC Pro Bono Week? Then you won’t want to miss this year’s Pro Bono Goes Local, a launch celebration on Friday, October 22, from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.

This launch event will begin with opening remarks from Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby from the D.C. Court of Appeals, and Chief Judge Josey-Herring from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. We’ll share the many ways DC law firms are giving back through a pro bono initiative called DC Represents and conclude with a series of updates and recent developments in six different practice areas. You’ll get an inside view from local experts on current developments in civil justice and updates on the most urgent pro bono needs we are facing during this critical time in our community. Read more →

Oct 20

2021

Recent Law Changes Expand Protections for Survivors

On December 15, 2020, the D.C. Council passed the Intrafamily Offenses and Anti-Stalking Orders Amendment Act of 2020. The new law, which took effect on April 27 of this year, significantly expands protections for domestic violence survivors. Legal Aid is proud to be part of the group of advocates that drafted and supported these reforms.

A few of the many reforms in this bill are:

Read more →