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Jun 15

2021

In Observance of Juneteenth

Annually on June 19th, communities across the country celebrate Juneteenth for it is the most popular celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day. Read more →

Jun 14

2021

New Resource about D.C. Tenants’ Rights

Though the majority of Legal Aid’s housing work is representing individual tenants in litigation or administrative proceedings, our housing unit’s work extends far beyond that. Legal Aid works in the community – presenting Know Your Rights events, collaborating with community-based organizations, and representing tenants’ associations. We have long known DC tenant communities are strong. We know tenant associations that stand up to unscrupulous landlordstenants that vocalize the need for tenant protections, and tenants that band together to exercise their rights under TOPA, or the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. Read more →

Jun 11

2021

USDA withdraws harmful SNAP rule that would have cut off benefits for millions nationwide

On June 10, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) withdrew its proposed rule to revise categorical eligibility for SNAP. This represents a victory for SNAP recipients in the District and nationally, and is the result of critical economic justice advocacy by over a hundred thousand individuals and organizations, including the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Bread for the City. Read more →

Jun 07

2021

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia Launches the 2021 Making Justice Real Campaign

On June 1, 2021, the Legal Aid Society of The District of Columbia (Legal Aid) launched its annual Making Justice Real Campaign to raise funds that cover the cost of providing free legal services to poverty-stricken individuals and families living in Washington, D.C.

The Making Justice Real Campaign brings together thousands of people to support the mission of the Legal Aid Society, the city’s oldest and largest civil legal services organizations. The goal: make justice “real,” in individual and systemic ways, for those who cannot afford legal services. Read more →

May 17

2021

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 →

May 17

2021

DC Council to Consider Restarting Eviction Process Before New STAY DC Rental Assistance Program Is Effectively Serving Tenants

On Tuesday, the DC Council will consider a legislative proposal to cut back on the District’s eviction moratorium.  Landlords currently are prohibited from serving tenants with eviction notices, filing new eviction cases, or actually evicting tenants.  In early April, the Council approved a narrow exception allowing the eviction process to restart where tenants present a current and substantial public safety threat.  The Council now will consider whether to create a similar exception for nonpayment of rent.

In December 2020 and March 2021, the federal government approved sending up to $352 million in emergency rental assistance to the District for tenants who fell behind on rent during the pandemic.  On April 12, the District launched the new STAY DC program with an online application portal to distribute these funds.  Since that time, according to numbers provided by the Department of Housing & Community Development last week, approximately 10,000 tenants have submitted completed applications online and another 10,000 tenants have started the process.  Unfortunately, according to the Mayor’s staff, not a single payment has been made.  These problems must be resolved first.

Read more →

May 17

2021

STAY DC Program Needs an Overhaul to Live Up to Its Promise to Prevent an Eviction Crisis

As a part of its $350 million Emergency Rental Assistance allocation from the Department of Treasury, the District launched a new rental assistance program on April 12, 2021 called Stronger Together by Assisting You, or STAY DC. The purpose of this program is to stabilize tenants who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent evictions by providing tenants with up to 18 months of rent relief.

According to reports from the Department of Housing and Community Development, over the past month, approximately 11,000 tenants have submitted a complete application for rental assistance online, and another 10,000 have initiated applications. Yet, not a single tenant has been approved for, let alone awarded, rent relief. Tenants and advocates are understandably concerned that STAY DC may end up being an ineffectual and inaccessible program unable to accomplish its stated objectives.

Read more →

May 04

2021

DC Among Jurisdictions with Highest Insured Rates in the Pandemic, But Still Room for Improvement

In a recent report, Families USA, a leading organization in health care advocacy, showed the devastating impact that lack of health insurance has on COVID-19 diagnosed cases and deaths at national, state, and county levels. Being uninsured is linked to a third of deaths from COVID, nationwide. The study found that an estimated 10.9 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the United States from March 2020 to February 2021 were associated with a lack of insurance. Read more →

Apr 20

2021

Legal Aid Statement on Conviction of Derek Chauvin

Following the brutal, senseless killing of George Floyd last year, we at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia unequivocally affirmed the obvious: that Black Lives Matter, and renewed our commitment to stand in solidarity with those speaking out, peacefully demonstrating, and demanding a country and a society that will treat every one of its residents with dignity and respect.

And today, while still feeling grief and outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death, we believe that justice and accountability have been rightfully served with a conviction for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer. Read more →

Apr 08

2021

“40 at 50” Honorary Event Recognizes D.C. Pro Bono Leaders

Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services held the first-ever virtual “40 at 50” Pro Bono Event. The event recognized DC law firms for outstanding leadership in pro bono service. It honored firms that had at least 40% of their lawyers contribute at least 50 pro bono hours in years 2019 and/or 2020. Read more →