Special ProjectsDirecting Our Services Where the Needs Are Greatest
Landlord Tenant Court-Based Legal Services Project
Since 2007, with generous support from the D.C. Bar Foundation’s Access to Justice Grants Program, Legal Aid and Bread for the City have been operating the Court-Based Legal Service Project in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of D.C. Superior Court. Through an office sited in the Court and staffed jointly by Legal Aid and Bread, we provide same-day and extended representation to low-income tenants defending against eviction cases. The partners launching the Project worked cooperatively with the Court to establish the first limited practice rule in D.C. Superior Court. Since 2007, project attorneys have been able to provide much-needed same-day legal services to thousands of individuals and families facing eviction from their homes.
Subsidized Housing Representation Project
In 2015, with a generous grant from the D.C. Bar Foundation, Legal Aid partnered with Bread for the City and Legal Counsel for the Elderly to launch the Subsidized Housing Representation Project, also known as the Housing Right to Counsel Pilot Project. The partners on this project aim to expand access to counsel dramatically for tenants in subsidized housing facing eviction through partnerships with pro bono attorneys at D.C. law firms. The guiding hand of counsel is particularly important in these cases, where eviction also can result in the loss of an invaluable housing subsidy, too often leading to a spiral into homelessness and hopelessness. Through a combination of intensive pre-court outreach and intake and in-court representation and assistance, the project partners will attempt to make contact with as many tenants in subsidized housing facing eviction as possible and to offer a guarantee of representation.
Domestic Violence Victims Representation Project
Legal Aid has been staffing the Domestic Violence Intake Center in Southeast D.C. for more than seven years. Our attorneys currently staff the office four days a week. By locating in Southeast, DC, we are able to provide clients with better access to our services. Project attorneys meet with survivors of domestic violence for initial interviews, help clients secure Civil Protection Orders through legal representation or advice, and provide referrals for other services.
Domestic Violence Underserved Communities Project
In 2012, Legal Aid began a new domestic violence project to address the gap in domestic violence services in the District. With generous funding from the D.C. Bar Foundation, we were able to hire additional new domestic violence/family law attorneys in order to expand our domestic violence work. Our attorneys now staff the Northwest Domestic Violence Intake Center at the courthouse and provide outreach and services to underserved communities in the District.
Child Support Community Legal Services Project
Modeled after the successful Landlord Tenant Court-Based Legal Services Project, this project was established in 2011 and is also operated jointly with Bread for the City. Also funded through a grant from the D.C. Bar Foundation, Legal Aid attorneys staff the Child Support Resource Center at the Child Support and Paternity Branch of D.C. Superior Court and provide same-day legal services to custodial and non-custodial parents, helping them navigate the daunting child support system.
Consumer Court-Based Legal Services Project
In November 2012, a Skadden Fellow joined our Consumer Law Unit to help address abusive debt collection practices through the provision of same-day, in-court representation to low-income D.C. residents. Although the fellowship has since concluded, Legal Aid continued the project which has helped hundreds of low-income consumers in debt collection cases in Small Claims Court, where a staggering 95% of defendants are unrepresented.
FORECLOSURE PREVENTION PROJECT
In September 2014, an Equal Justice Works Fellow joined our Consumer Law Unit to represent low-income homeowners facing foreclosure. The project began shortly after D.C. Superior Court implemented a special calendar and procedures for judicial foreclosure cases, offering distressed homeowners the chance to participate in early mediation with their lenders and discuss the possibility of loan modifications and other alternatives to foreclosure at the outset of each case. The project aims to help low-income homeowners save their homes through direct legal representation, systemic advocacy, and outreach—including a regular presence in court during the call of the weekly judicial foreclosure calendar.
Housing Conditions Calendar
A Skadden Fellow joined Legal Aid in September 2013 to begin a project which has the potential to help thousands of tenants in the District who live in homes plagued by poor housing conditions such as collapsing ceilings, inoperable heat, and vermin infestations. Such conditions threaten tenants’ health and safety and deprive them of housing stability. Through litigation and advocacy, the project aims to obtain meaningful relief for underserved low-income tenants living with poor housing conditions and reform the Superior Court’s Housing Conditions Calendar.
Southeast Neighborhood Access Project
In 2006, Legal Aid established an office in Anacostia with funding from the D.C. Bar Foundation. Every year, the Southeast Neighborhood Access Project serves hundreds of persons living in poverty who would not otherwise have access to legal services due to disability, financial hardship, or lack of transportation. We have found that locating our lawyers in areas of highly-concentrated poverty (namely Wards 7 and 8) has proven to be among the most effective ways to raise awareness, increase access to much-needed legal services, and reduce the geographic barrier for those in greatest need.