Washington, DC – Today, the DC Bar Foundation is pleased to announce that it will award an additional $7 million in 2018 to legal aid organizations in DC focused on preserving affordable housing, defending low-income tenants in eviction cases, and assisting low-income DC residents in other housing-related legal issues. This is in addition to the $6.7 million that the Foundation already awarded for 2018, which was announced in a press release dated December 8, 2017.
This additional funding will greatly assist the legal efforts led by DC’s legal aid community to combat the disappearance of nearly half of DC’s affordable housing over the past ten years. Two appropriations from the Council of the District of Columbia make up this $7 million: the Expanding Access to Justice Act of 2017, which created the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program, and the Access to Justice Grants Program, established by the Access to Justice Act of 2007. The two grant programs are managed by the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, with the DC Bar Foundation as the designated administrator for both programs.
Under the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program, the Foundation will award approximately $5 million strictly for eviction defense in Landlord-Tenant Court, where about 30,000 cases are filed annually. In this court, it is estimated that 90 percent of landlords are represented, but 90 percent of tenants are unrepresented. With the funding, the legal aid community hopes to reduce wrongful eviction and keep low-income tenants in their homes, preserving the small number of affordable units remaining in the District.
The remaining $2 million is available through the Access to Justice Grants Program. These funds will be awarded to legal aid organizations working on more broad housing issues, such as matters involving housing conditions, unlawful rent increases, the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), and the redevelopment of public housing, to name a few.
With the combination of these grant programs, the Foundation hopes to their leverage funds to create a coordinated effort among legal aid organizations to tackle one of the most pressing issues facing the District and its ability to be a thriving, diverse, and inclusive community.
The application to apply for funds will be released in late winter 2018 and will be due early spring 2018. The grant year will begin July 1, 2018. For more information and updates, please visit the DC Bar Foundation’s website at www.dcbarfoundation.org.
About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.