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Written by Christy Moehrle

Mar 21

2014

Legal Aid Attorneys Testify at Council Oversight Hearings

At Legal Aid, our representation of our client community and its experiences extends beyond the courtroom. Our mission of making justice real also means we engage in advocacy and activism on behalf of our clients, often with the government and bureaucratic entities with which they most frequently interact. Over the past month, attorneys in our Public Benefits Unit testified before D.C. Council to relate to council members some salient issues and challenges facing many District residents. Read more →

Oct 24

2013

Legal Aid to Hold Medicare Part D Outreach Clinics Throughout the Fall

Each year, Legal Aid partners with Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Program to train pro bono law firm volunteers to help ensure that low-income D.C. Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in the proper Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.  Through this collaboration, we make sure that each client gets a thorough analysis of his or her prescription drug needs and is enrolled in the Part D prescription drug plan that best meets those needs at the lowest possible cost.

Outreach to Medicare beneficiaries this year is especially crucial in light of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which began on October 1.  Many of our clients are confused about whether the ACA will affect them.  We are concerned that, given this confusion, our clients might be vulnerable to calls or home visits to try to get them to sign up for coverage they do not need.  In the past, these types of predatory practices have resulted in clients’ losing access to their doctors and/or prescriptions. Read more →

Jul 24

2013

Legal Aid to Assist in Coordinating in Annual D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program Public Benefits Brown Bag Training Series

Christy Moehrle, Paralegal

Christy Moehrle, Paralegal

This fall, members of our Public Benefits staff (Jennifer Mezey, Andrew Patterson, Westra Miller and Drake Hagner) will be leading training sessions during the annual D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program Public Benefits Brown Bag Training Series.  Each year, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Whitman-Walker Health and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless sponsor trainings for lawyers and caseworkers on a variety of public benefits programs, including TANF, Food Stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, Medicare, Alliance, the new Health Benefits Exchange, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI/SSI), and Unemployment Insurance.  Staff from Legal Aid, Whitman-Walker and the Legal Clinic will be joined by attorneys from Bread for the City, DC Hunger Solutions and the AFL-CIO Claimant Advocacy Program in their presentations.

These trainings are hosted by the D.C. Bar and will be held at their office at 1101 K Street, NW, Suite 200. More information on the dates and times to come.

This year’s trainings will be particularly timely because they will take place when changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are being implemented and as the District is implementing the federal health care reform law.  We will explain the changes in the law and their timing and discuss strategies for advocates who are working with clients who depend on these essential programs.

 

Apr 10

2013

Legal Aid to Co-Sponsor DHS Budget Briefing, Wednesday April 17th

Christy Moehrle, Paralegal

Christy Moehrle, Paralegal

Legal Aid is a co-sponsor of a District of Columbia Department of Human Services briefing next Wednesday, April 17, 2013. At the briefing, DHS Director David Berns will present the Department’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014 and respond to questions and concerns. The briefing will provide the chance for Legal Aid and other community advocates to ask questions about funding for TANF, homeless services, and other DHS programs vital to our client community. We are grateful to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and other co-sponsors for joining us in putting together this important event. The briefing will be held at DHS’s headquarters (64 New York Avenue, NE) from 11:00am to 1:00pm. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Kate Coventry at coventry@dcfpi.org.

Mar 01

2013

From the Hill to Anacostia: How Sequestration Will Affect DC’s Low-Income Population

Christy Moehrle, Paralegal

Christy Moehrle, Paralegal

We have all been receiving daily, or perhaps hourly, updates on the looming threat of sequestration—posed to drop at midnight tonight.  Here in the District, attention has focused on everything from the furlough of federal employees to the anticipated traffic-free roads as a result of fewer commuting workers.  For a significant number of District residents, however, the sequestration threatens to destabilize the already very precarious foundation on which their lives, and the lives of their children, are built.

Though Title IV-E and other low-income safety net programs, like TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) are exempt from sequestration – thanks to Congress’s temporary protection granted back in September 2012 – many programs that low-income families and individuals rely on will not be granted such reprieve.  For example, sequestration will cut federal funding to public housing and voucher programs.  According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, not only will sequestration severely reduce block grants that make affordable housing possible, it will also cut funds to assist the thousands of people in the District who are already experiencing homelessness.  Moreover, public health programs, law enforcement resources, special education programs, and nutrition assistance for seniors are all predicted to fall victim to budget slashing.  For families who rely on these programs, sequestration can be the difference between securing affordable housing through the voucher system and staying locked in DC’s troubling shelter system, between having substantial daily sustenance and not, or between completing workforce development training and being stuck in a non-living wage job.

For legal rights advocates, the sequestration and the devastating effects it can have on our clients who rely on federally funded resources and programs is a sobering reminder of the instability of life below, or barely above, the poverty line.  As Adrianne Todman, executive director of the District of Columbia Housing Authority, recently pointed out, “Sequestration isn’t just a fancy word.  It’s about people, too.”