Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

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 →