Written by Nina Wu

Jul 24


Vulnerable Families Caught up in DC’s Public School Residency Fraud Investigation

A few months ago, the DC government decided to crack down on alleged residency fraud at a popular DC Public School, the Duke Ellington School of Arts, where many parents — desperate to find the best schooling option for their child — compete to gain their child’s admission. There appear to be many problems with the DC government’s actions, among them the way it handled the findings of its seemingly rash investigation. Families were accused of fraud, threatened with draconian penalties (for example, the government filed lawsuits seeking a combined $800,000 from two families alone), and sent notices without any explanation of the allegations or information about how they could appeal the cases. Read more →

Feb 18


Legal Aid and McKenna Long File Class Action Lawsuit Against the Social Security Administration, Treasury Department, and D.C. Government

UPDATE: Legal Times Covers Filing of Class Action Lawsuit (12:29PM February 18, 2015)

This morning, Legal Aid and the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge issued a press release announcing that they have filed a class action lawsuit in federal district court on behalf of three individuals against the Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Treasury, and District of Columbia government.

The lawsuit alleges that the government defendants confiscated the plaintiffs’ tax refunds, without notice, in violation of federal law — including Social Security’s own regulations and the Administrative Procedures Act — and without the due process required under the Constitution. The seizure of funds is based on alleged debts that the plaintiffs owe to the Social Security Administration, but those alleged debts are decades old, and the agency has been unable to date to provide an adequate explanation for them. In some cases, the Social Security benefits in question were paid to a relative of the plaintiffs, and not to the plaintiffs themselves. Read more →

Jul 18


4th Annual “East of the River” Career Panel Today

This afternoon, I am going to be on a panel entitled “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River,” with attorneys from the Children’s Law Center, Employment Justice Center, Neighborhood Legal Services Program and Quality Trust. The panel is organized by the East of the River Casehandlers, a collaboration of legal services provider organizations that serve residents in Wards 7 and 8, of which Legal Aid is a member. We’ll talk about our experiences practicing law in some of the District’s communities with the highest levels of concentrated poverty, as well as different career paths and service opportunities available to public interest-minded law students and pro bono lawyers in the District of Columbia. Imoni Washington, of the D.C. Bar Foundation, will also be present to talk about how the Foundation can provide critical support for this work. Feel free to join us at Deanwood Library for what should be an interesting conversation! Read more →

Jun 07


New D.C. Community Resource and Referral Center Opens to Serve Veterans

Nina Wu, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow

As Legal Aid’s veterans’ fellow, I am excited to share the news that a dynamic, new resource center for homeless veterans – the VA Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) – has opened its doors in the District.  The Center, the first of its kind in the Washington D.C. area, was mentioned in a recent Washington City Paper article about how the federal government is committing more resources to assist homeless veterans.  Located at 1500 Franklin Street NE (a mile away from the Rhode Island Metro Station), CRRC is open to veterans 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At the CRRC, homeless veterans are able to receive primary care and mental health services at any time of the day.  If a veteran visits the CRRC in the middle of the night and there are no doctors present, then VA staff will connect the veteran to state-of-the-art medical technology that enables VA doctors from anywhere in the U.S. to see, talk to, and examine veterans remotely, and then decide whether the veteran needs to be taken to an emergency room.

Legal Aid has already established a presence at the CRRC, and right now, our plan is to conduct intake there every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, beginning June 27, 2012.  In addition, veterans can access a range of other services at the CRRC, including those provided by HUD/VASH case workers, employment specialists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, the Veterans Benefits Administration, Social Security Administration, and those provided by other community partners such as All Faith Consortium and Pathways to Housing.

At this time, the CRRC does not have beds because it’s not intended to be a residence – more a place of respite, like the Stand Downs of the past.  However, it does have a computer lab, kitchen, food pantry, play room for children, and laundry and shower facilities.