Today, the DC Bar Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded $1,455,500 to DC organizations that provide free legal assistance to low-income DC residents on housing-related cases. This is in addition to the housing-related grants the Foundation currently funds, bringing the total amount invested in legal assistance for housing-related matters to nearly $5 million in 2018.
Two appropriations from the Council of the District of Columbia make up this $1.5 million: the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program and the Access to Justice Grants Program, established by the Expanding Access to Justice Act of 2017 and the Access to Justice Act of 2007, respectively.
Under the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program, the Foundation awarded five grants, totaling $940,500. This new funding will add 15 new attorneys to the legal aid network who represent low-income DC residents in eviction cases, helping alleviate a power imbalance in eviction court where 90% of the landlords are represented, compared to just 10% of tenants. It is projected that 66% of those receiving assistance with these funds will reside in Wards 5, 7, and 8. With more than 30,000 eviction cases filed every year in court, this additional funding will provide much needed legal assistance to low-income DC residents.
The Foundation awarded $515,000 in additional funding under the Access to Justice Grants Program to ten projects. While the focus of each project varies, all projects work to preserve affordable housing in the District. For example, one new project will assist families in housing conditions cases, where tenants are helped in obtaining housing repairs from the landlord for things like fixing the air conditioning unit or eliminating mold that may be negatively affecting a child’s health. Several organizations will collaborate on building-wide cases that involve housing conditions, barring notices, zoning, rent control, and housing discrimination. This additional funding will greatly assist the efforts of DC’s legal aid community to combat the disappearance of nearly half of DC’s affordable housing over the past ten years.
To view a complete list of the Foundation’s grantees, visit 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.