Written by Laurie Ball Cooper

Mar 04


Legal Aid Supports Critical Legislation to Protect Tenants

Earlier this week, Councilmember Anita Bonds introduced the Rental Housing Late Fee Fairness Amendment Act. Legal Aid is delighted to support this Bill, which provides critical protections for tenants in the District of Columbia and addresses many situations with which our clients frequently struggle.

Legal Aid’s housing attorneys frequently represent clients facing significant difficulties, including the risk of eviction, because of unfair late fee practices by landlords in the District. For example, tenants receiving rent subsidies are sometimes assessed late fees based on the subsidy provider’s failure to pay its portion of the rent. This means that a tenant with extremely low income, whose own tenant portion of the rent could be zero, could be assessed a $50 late fee for the subsidy provider’s failure to pay its portion of the rent. Furthermore, a tenant whose own portion of the rent is only $25 could, by being just one day late in paying that rent, face a $50 late fee. Tenants who do not receive subsidies also often face unfair late fees. For example, a tenant whose rent is $1000 who comes up short one month and pays only $990 could face a late fee of $50 – a sum disproportionate to the $10 that are actually late. Read more →

Feb 04


Language Access Act Amendments Re-Introduced in D.C. Council

Yesterday, Councilmember David Grosso re-introduced a bill that would strengthen the D.C. Language Access Act in several important ways. (Last fall, we blogged about the prior version of this bill that Councilmember Grosso submitted during the last Council session.) The new bill, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Charles Allen and Vincent Orange, includes many important changes to current law.

Most notably, the bill would add a private right of action, allowing individuals harmed by violations of the Language Access Act to bring cases for damages and other remedies in D.C. courts. Under the current Act, language access complaints can only be brought before the Office of Human Rights and only lead to “corrective actions” by the agencies, not any compensation to the person actually harmed by violations of the Act. The ability to make whole individuals who have been harmed by violations of the Act is a key provision of the proposed legislation. Read more →

Sep 23


New D.C. Council Bill to Strengthen Language Access Act

Today, Councilmember David Grosso introduced a bill that seeks to strengthen the D.C. Language Access Act in several important ways. The bill, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Vincent Orange, Jim Graham, Jack Evans, David Catania and Yvette Alexander, includes many notable amendments to the existing law, such as:

– Adding the Mayor’s Office, D.C. Council, and public charter schools as “covered entities” under the Act;

– Requiring covered entities with major public contact to have a full-time equivalent language access coordinator position; Read more →

Feb 07


Housing Crisis Persists in D.C.

The District is facing a “severe crisis” of family homelessness in the midst of this year’s cold snap. A recent Washington Post piece confirms what many of us poverty advocates have long known: that there are many more homeless families than there are shelters to house them. With D.C. General, the District’s primary family shelter, full, two DC recreation centers are now serving as emergency family shelters.

The numbers of homeless families in the District are only going up. This year, it appears that the city will see a 100% increase in family homelessness – much more than the 10% increase that was anticipated. Read more →