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Neighborhood Legal Services Program Provides Critical Housing Assistance

The DC Bar Foundation is proud to fund legal services organizations in DC that help residents during times of crisis.

Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP)—a DCBF Grantee—is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides free legal information, advice, and representation on civil legal matters to District of Columbia residents with low incomes. They are committed to equal access to justice for all members of the DC community. NLSP is committed to working toward a more just and equitable Washington, DC, for all residents.

This client story highlights the impact of their work and how they helped a client who needed legal services but had a modest income.

Ms. L is a nurse who lives with her two sons and owns a dog that is her registered Emotional

Support Animal (ESA), helping with her diagnosed mental disabilities. Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) successfully represented Ms. L in two landlord-tenant cases. One involved her landlord filing an eviction case when she refused to get rid of her ESA at the landlord’s request, and the second involved nonpayment of rent which accrued because Ms. L was unable to work when she had COVID-19.

In the ESA case, NLSP prepared for trial and engaged in settlement discussions with the landlord’s attorney. Trial preparation included filing a Motion for Discovery and a Motion to Compel Compliance with Discovery when opposing counsel refused to provide documents.

The landlord eventually dismissed the ESA case upon realizing that Ms. L would not get rid of her dog without a protracted legal fight and that Ms. L was legally entitled to keep her dog. In the nonpayment of rent case, NLSP represented Ms. L in court, assisted with her Emergency Rental Assistance Program application, and the ultimate dismissal of the case after DC’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program provided monetary assistance. Additionally, NLSP’s assistance resulted in Ms. L’s landlord removing $1,500.00 in erroneous parking charges from her rental ledger.

NLSP’s representation of Ms. L prevented the eviction of Ms. L and her sons and resulted in the

landlord paying back erroneous charges of $1,500.00. This representation also allowed the family’s beloved dog to remain at home. Without NLSP’s help, Ms. L and her family would have likely faced eviction and the possibility of homelessness. Statistics show that there can be many collateral consequences once someone becomes unhoused. For example, being unhoused might prevent Ms. L from being able to care for her family, maintain steady employment, or keep her emotional support animal—a loss that could impact her emotional health. In addition, being unhoused would make it difficult for Ms. L’s sons to flourish and remain on track in school. NLSP’s work with Ms. L demonstrates how clients and their families benefit from proper legal assistance.

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