Archives

Written by Adam Jacobs

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 →

Oct 22

2020

Social Security Administration Agrees To Return Up To $30 Million In Wrongly Confiscated Tax Refunds

Legal Aid announced a settlement with the Social Security Administration (SSA) this week that could help tens of thousands of Americans obtain forgiveness of approximately $30 million in debts allegedly owed to Social Security.

“Tens of thousands of people have waited more than five years for a resolution, so we are delighted to reach a comprehensive settlement in this matter that will hopefully provide some measure of relief for them, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eric Angel, Executive Director of Legal Aid. Read more →

Oct 20

2020

Legal Aid Prevails in Systemic Lawsuit Preserving SNAP Benefits for 700,000 Americans

On October 18, 2020, Judge Beryl Howell of the federal District Court of the District of Columbia vacated a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that would have cut off access to SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, for nearly 700,000 Americans, including more than 13,000 DC residents.

Working with our pro bono partners at Alston & Bird (pictured above: Legal Aid and Alston & Bird attorneys outside federal court on March 5 after oral arguments) Legal Aid represented Bread for the City and two individual clients, Geneva Tann and Damon Smith, in a complaint that was combined with a similar suit filed by nineteen states, the City of New York, and the District of Columbia. The challenged rule would have prevented the District of Columbia from waiving a SNAP provision that limited so-called “able-bodied adults without dependents,” (or adults without disabilities who live without children or other dependents) from receiving SNAP benefits for 33 of every 36 months unless they meet certain work requirements. Such waivers have been granted over the past 20 years in recognition of the longstanding challenges that low-income District residents face in obtaining steady employment. Read more →

Oct 19

2020

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Spotlighting Pets in the Cycle of Violence

Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been observed every October for over thirty years. This year is a little different as COVID-19 has made it more difficult for survivors to get to safety. Support for domestic violence survivors is more urgent now than ever before. In these unprecedented times, Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence and Family Law Unit continues to represent domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in civil protection order cases and other family law matters in D.C. We are proud to stand by survivors in our client community and around the globe.

This month, as the pandemic wages on and many survivors remain isolated with their abusers, Legal Aid has been reminded of the important role pets play in the cycle of domestic violence. One client reached out to us after a harrowing encounter in which her abusive partner turned his aggression toward her beloved dog, beating the dog multiple times simply because she left for work. Another client told us how her husband would threaten to kill her cat, holding her pet over the balcony until she would do as he demanded. Horrible acts like these show how abusers exploit the love survivors have for their pets to exert their control and perpetuate harm. Read more →

Oct 14

2020

DC Pro Bono Week 2020 Coming Soon!

DC Pro Bono Week 2020 is just around the corner, October 25-31. While the events will be held remotely this year to ensure everyone’s safety, that will not deter us from celebrating the impact pro bono attorneys have in our community and showcasing available opportunities. Several events and affiliated trainings are scheduled throughout October and November for attorneys who want to learn more about pro bono opportunities available throughout the city. Please help spread the word!

Below are just a few highlights that may be of particular interest to Legal Aid’s pro bono partners. We appreciate you spreading the word and look forward to having you join us at one or more of these events! Read more →

Oct 13

2020

Investigation Reveals Long-Standing “Sewer Service” Practice Resulting in Countless Evictions

For years, Legal Aid has heard from tenants that they never received notice of a pending eviction case, or that service was improper in some way. But because affidavits filed by process servers are entitled to a legal presumption of accuracy, tenants have found it difficult to convince a judge that an eviction case must be dismissed for improper service. A new, extensive investigation by DCist and SpotlightDC now has exposed just how widespread this problem is, a fundamental injustice at the core of D.C.’s eviction process. Read more →