THE DC COUNCIL MUST KEEP ACCESS TO JUSTICE INITIATIVE FUNDING SECURE TO ADEQUATELY SERVE A GROWING POPULATION THAT IS FACING SIGNIFICANT HARDSHIPS DURING THIS PANDEMIC.

We are facing an unprecedented demand for civil legal aid services during COVID-19. That demand will continue to soar. District residents are facing new and unanticipated legal problems that will only continue to grow as we emerge from this crisis. The DC Access to Justice Commission’s FY21 budget request for the Access to Justice Initiative is now more important than ever.

The Mayor recognized that access to civil legal services is a critical part of the District's recovery by funding the Access to Justice Initiative at $10,389,000. While we appreciate the difficult budget decisions facing the DC Council, we hope that it will also be able to recover $668,000 in one-time funding lost from our FY20 funding to bring us to $11,057,000.

Protecting program funding will preserve critical resources needed to address the growing need for civil legal help post-COVID among District residents. Investment in civil legal aid is a sound, public investment that benefits the District community. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS THE LEGAL AID NETWORK WILL CONTINUE TO BE IMPACTED IN THE AFTERMATH OF COVID-19?

  • If unemployment continues to rise many District workers will need help navigating the unemployment compensation system and securing available benefits and protections – many for the first time in their lives.

  • District residents that were once able to hire private attorneys to handle their cases will now turn to legal aid for services. We must provide adequate funding to meet the demand. 

  • District residents who had difficulty paying rent during COVID-19 due to lost wages will seek legal aid services to help with impending evictions, debt collection, and other civil legal challenges.

  • Shelter-in-place orders are difficult on already strained relationships and legal aid lawyers predict there will be an increased demand for divorce, visitation and custody assistance.

  • Legal aid lawyers ease the burden on the courts by either directly representing low-income residents or assisting and preparing pro-se litigants for court.

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Thank you for your continued support, and help during these unprecedented times.

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