In my remarks at this year’s Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, I highlighted Matthew Desmond’s extraordinary book, “Evicted,” winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction. I highlighted the importance of Legal Aid’s eviction prevention work and, in particular, our Housing Right to Counsel Project (also known as the Subsidized Housing Representation Project), a city-wide project we are leading but with many, many partners, including the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, Bread for the City, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, and numerous area law firms. I expressly noted the “Expanding Access to Justice Act of 2017,” which could dramatically increase the number of tenants represented in these cases.
Today’s Washington Post contains a powerful op-ed, drafted by D.C. Councilmembers Charles Allen, Kenyan McDuffie, and Mary Cheh, championing the Expanding Access to Justice Act. In the piece, the Councilmembers talk about success of our pilot project so far and conclude:
“This legislation is an important opportunity to do more to prevent homelessness, and it’s the right thing to do. It is time to stop pretending that access to legal know-how and the justice it provides should be contingent on how much money you have. Like its criminal counterpart, civil representation for the poor is ‘fundamental and essential’ to a fair trial and a fair shot for District tenants.”
Stay tuned for further developments on this important bill.