Bridging the Justice Gap with Legal Interpreters


The DC Bar Foundation is proud to support legal services organizations across the District. One of those organizations is Ayuda, which provides legal, social, and language services to help financially disenfranchised immigrants in our neighborhoods access justice and transform their lives.

Ayuda offers unique support to DC's legal aid network through their Community Legal Interpreter Bank, made up of fully trained interpreters who work with lawyers and their financially disenfranchised clients during one-on-one meetings outside of court. These interpreters are critical to making DC's civil legal aid system accessible to all District residents, regardless of language. And in particular, their phone services were lifelines for many during the height of the pandemic. Read on to learn about how Ayuda's interpreter bank helped Mr. And Mrs. Lopez* address their pressing mortgage issues, and remain in their home during the height of the pandemic.

Mr. and Mrs. Lopez are homeowners who live with their five children in DC. Their mortgage company sued them after falling behind on their mortgage payments, seeking to foreclose on their home. The Lopezes wanted to resume their payments with a loan modification, but COVID-19 made that impossible. The pandemic impacted Mr. Lopez's job, decreasing his income, and, frighteningly, Mrs. Lopez contracted the virus.

The Lopezes contacted a DC legal services organization, which began to work on their issue right away. The organization was able to communicate with the Lopezes, whose primary language is Spanish, through the assistance of Ayuda's Community Legal Interpreter Bank's comprehensive language access services. All phone calls to the couple were made through a Language Line Spanish interpreter, who helped them communicate their needs and concerns, and ensured they understood the legal process as it unfolded.

With the organization's assistance and through Ayuda's critical interpreter services, the Lopez family requested forbearance from their mortgage company according to the federal CARES Act. The request was approved, temporarily suspending their monthly mortgage payment obligations (with no accrual of additional interest or fees) during their period of financial hardship. This forbearance can last for up to one year and gave them the breathing room to rebuild their income without having to worry about losing their home during the height of a pandemic.

To learn more about the DC Bar Foundation and how the grantees we support help keep District residents in their homes, please visit our website.

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