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Jun 10

2022

DC Council Passes Landmark Debt Collection Law

The District of Columbia will soon have in place what may be the most progressive law in the nation protecting consumers from unfair and abusive debt collection practices.

On June 7, 2022, the DC Council passed the Protecting Consumers from Unjust Debt Collection Practices Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0357). The new law now awaits the Mayor’s signature and a congressional review period before becoming applicable on January 1, 2023. In the meantime, the Council already has put in place an emergency version of the law, which it also voted to extend at the June 7 legislative meeting. Read more →

Jun 08

2022

D.C. Courts Recognize 4,500+ Lawyers on 2021 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll

Congratulations to the members of the 2021 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll!

On June 1, the D.C. Courts, in partnership with the D.C. Access to Justice Commission and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, published the 2021 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, recognizing 4,572 District attorneys who provided 50+ hours of pro bono service during 2021, with more than half of them providing over 100 hours of service, qualifying them for the High Honor Roll. Read more →

Jun 06

2022

The District Must Open its Homeowner Assistance Fund Immediately and Extend the Foreclosure Moratorium to Protect Homeowners Waiting on Federal Assistance Funds

The District’s foreclosure moratorium for owner-occupied homes is set to expire on June 30, but the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), which will provide $50 million in federal funds to help DC homeowners catch up on their mortgages and other housing-related payments, is still not open. This unacceptable delay leaves homeowners who have struggled in the wake of the pandemic and the uneven economic recovery at risk of losing their homes — even though there is funding available to help them. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has had 5 months since the Federal Government approved its plan for using these funds, and the delay makes DC one of the last jurisdictions in the country to fully open its HAF program. DCHD must open HAF now so that homeowners can access these potentially life-changing funds. Meanwhile, the DC Council should pass emergency legislation extending the foreclosure moratorium and strengthening protections for homeowners who submit applications once the program is open. These steps are crucial to preventing DC residents from needlessly losing their homes due to the DC Government’s continued struggle to get help to them. Read more →

Jun 06

2022

Tenants Win a Legal Battle to Protect Their Rights Under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act

Recently the DC Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a group of tenants who have been fighting for years to protect their rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). DC Council first passed TOPA in 1980. Back then, like today, DC was facing an affordable housing crisis. For over forty years, TOPA has continued to serve DC tenants—particularly low-income tenants—helping them fight displacement and maintain at least some control over the future of their homes. The ruling from the Court of Appeals last week protects the power of TOPA for DC tenants. Read more →

Jun 01

2022

DC Council Bill Seeks to Create Abortion & LGBTQ+ Healthcare Sanctuary

Earlier this month, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and nine of her colleagues introduced the “Human Rights Sanctuary Amendment Act of 2022,” which would, in Councilmember Nadeau’s words, “protect[] the rights of District residents to live with whom they please, love whom they love, and control their reproductive destinies. It makes the District a safe haven for trans youth who need gender-affirming care, LGBTQ+ individuals who need to preserve their families, and all people who need reproductive freedom to flourish as meaningful participants in American life.” Read more →

Apr 21

2022

The Connection Between Health and Wealth: Recent Report Highlights the Impact of Medical Debt on Black Families

A recent report from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) examines the racial health and wealth gaps and highlights the impact of medical debt on Black families. The report provides a sobering explanation of how disparities in healthcare and medical debt are a result of underlying, pervasive racial inequality. Unfortunately, these issues and impacts are all too familiar to District residents and Legal Aid’s client community. Read more →

Mar 04

2022

Legal Aid Announces its First Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Legal Aid is excited to welcome Patrick Orciani as our first Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). Patrick, who has many years of experience doing DEI work, will assist us in advancing our mission to ensure that DEI is part of the fabric of Legal Aid.

Prior to joining Legal Aid, Patrick worked for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, where he also served as their Director of DEI. With almost twenty years of experience in the public and private sectors, thirteen of those years with consulting firm Guidehouse, Patrick has helped to create change within organizations by creating and implementing DEI best practices. Read more →

Feb 16

2022

An Unemployment Victory for One Client Could Mean Fewer Hurdles for Many More Moving Forward

On February 3, 2022, the District Columbia Court of Appeals released its opinion in Young v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES), awarding unemployment benefits to Legal Aid client Ashley Young. The central issue in the case was whether DOES could deny back benefits to Ms. Young after she failed to respond to an email (which she never received) asking her to fill out a quality control questionnaire. Much later, when Ms. Young found out about the questionnaire, she filled it out and began to receive benefits going forward, but DOES refused to give her payments for the time before she filled out the questionnaire. Read more →

Feb 03

2022

ENROLLMENT IS OPEN FOR THE 2021 CAPITAL PRO BONO HONOR ROLL!

Did you provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service in 2021? If so, we encourage you to submit your information to be included on the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll. Applications are due on Friday, February 25, 2022, so submit your application today!

Recognizing the vital role that private and government attorneys play in providing pro bono services to those who cannot afford counsel, the Chief Judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia have announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll. Supported by the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center and the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll pays tribute to the thousands of D.C. Bar members and attorneys practicing under D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49 who provide desperately needed free legal services to those living in poverty and/or to the disadvantaged small businesses and community-based non-profits that are critical to the economic well-being of our community. Read more →

Feb 01

2022

Remembering Volunteer Staff Attorney Jim Springer

Legal Aid was saddened to learn of the passing of James VanR. Springer, who died on January 26, 2022. Jim served as a Volunteer Staff Attorney at Legal Aid for eight years, helping countless DC residents and mentoring dozens of junior Legal Aid attorneys. In 2012, he was honored with Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award for his faithful dedication and remarkable achievement in ensuring that all people have equal and meaningful access to justice, joining the ranks of Vernon Jordan, Eric Holder, Janet Reno, Charles Horsky, and many others. Read more →