Written by Damon King

Jul 13


The District Must Finally and Completely Eliminate Barriers to the Healthcare Alliance Program

As the D.C. Council prepares for its first vote on the District’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget next week, Legal Aid urges Councilmembers to fund long-overdue permanent reforms to the D.C. Healthcare Alliance’s renewal policies.

The Alliance provides health coverage for immigrants living in the District with low incomes. However, for nearly a decade, the program has had application and renewal policies that make it unnecessarily hard for people to access and maintain coverage.  These policies, which went into effect in 2011, have included the requirements that Alliance participants recertify their eligibility for the program every six months and participate in an in-person interview as part of the recertification process. Read more →

May 17


The Council Should Not Weaken Protections from Utility Shut-Offs During the Pandemic

Earlier today, my colleague, Beth Mellen, highlighted that the Council will vote tomorrow on a bill that would substantially weaken the District’s COVID-19 pandemic eviction moratorium – even as the District struggles to process thousands of requests for rent relief.  The bill also includes language that would weaken existing protections against utility shut-offs during the pandemic, allowing households to have services cut off unless they enter into payment plans, apply to STAYDC for assistance, or participate in one of a few listed safety net programs.  Throughout the pandemic, the utility shut-off moratorium and the eviction moratorium have worked together to protect Washingtonians – eviction protections have kept them in their homes, while consistent access to electricity, water, gas, and telecommunications services have helped ensure health and safety.  Weakening utility protections puts safe housing for Washingtonians at risk, even as the pandemic continues.  Read more →

Jun 26


Legal Aid Strongly Supports D.C. Statehood

As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares for a historic vote on the issue later today, Legal Aid strongly urges every member of Congress to support making the District of Columbia the 51st state of the Union. The case for D.C. statehood has always been compelling, but in light of the national pandemic and a renewed spotlight on deep racial inequities, it is more powerful now than ever.

The District of Columbia is more populous than Vermont and Wyoming, and its more than 705,000 residents pay more in taxes than do the residents of 22 of the 50 states. Yet D.C. has no representation in Congress. D.C.’s lone delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, is a non-voting member of the House, and D.C. lacks a voice all together in the Senate. And unique to the District and the District alone, any permanent changes to our laws must be sent to Congress for a period of 30 days (or 60 days for certain criminal legislation) before becoming effective. Read more →

Jun 15


Legal Aid Joins The Call to Reduce Funding for Police and Re-Invest in Communities

At a time when people across the country – including District residents – have taken to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and black people across the country who have been killed by police officers, it is crucial that we take a closer look at whether the decisions of our local leaders truly reflect the fundamental value that these protests seek to uphold: that black lives matter.

Read more →

May 06


Preventing Pandemic-Driven Displacement: How the FY21 Budget Should Protect District Homeowners and Tenants

In this post, we continue our discussion of Legal Aid’s priorities for the District’s Fiscal Year (FY) 21 budget, including recommendations designed to ensure that all District residents experience a true economic recovery.  Having discussed steps the District should take to strengthen key safety net programs, we turn to steps the District must take to prevent displacement, an already-existing problem that an extended economic downturn has the potential to make worse. Read more →

May 04


Strengthening Our Safety Net: How the FY21 Budget Should Protect Struggling District Residents

In our last post, we discussed the importance of enacting a Fiscal Year (FY) 21 budget that addresses longstanding vulnerabilities that continue to put District residents from marginalized communities at risk. Essential to achieving that goal is to close gaps in our social safety net programs and ensure that assistance continues to be available to those who may need more time to recover financially from this crisis. Read more →

May 04


A Recovery for All: Principles to Guide the District this Budget Season

Next week, we will reach a key point in the District’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On May 12, the Mayor will release her proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, beginning the process of determining funding levels for agencies across the District Government. Since our fiscal year starts in October and extends through September 2021, the Mayor’s proposed budget will not only shape the District’s continuing emergency response to COVID, but just as importantly, define how we recover from it. Read more →

Mar 23


Policymakers Take Important Steps to Protect District Residents During Corona Virus Pandemic

Last Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. This emergency legislation, which passed unanimously, takes several key steps to protect District residents in the midst of the current Corona Virus Pandemic. Last week, my Legal Aid colleagues shared their analyses of the Act, highlighting key protections for residents participating in social safety net programs and tenants, while also discussing the work that District agencies and the Council still need to do to address residents’ needs. Take a look at what they have to say below: Read more →

Sep 19


Legal Aid Urges the Council to Vote ‘No’ on Homeless Services Bill

Tomorrow morning, September 20, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Human Services will vote on the Homeless Services Reform Amendment Act of 2017, a package of policy changes that will deeply affect services for members of our community struggling with homelessness. Legal Aid opposes this legislation, urges the members of the Committee to vote against it, and urges you to contact the Council via the action alerts at the end of this post. Read more →