Washington, DC – The DC Bar Foundation announced the recipients of the third distribution of the Foreclosure Prevention and Community Redevelopment Legal Assistance Grants Program. A total of $939,000 was awarded to projects that will increase access to justice by:
Representing low-income and elderly residents in foreclosure cases at DC Superior Court;
Ensuring that affordable housing properties in DC transition to market rate in a way that avoids displacement of low-income DC tenants;
Combatting the causes of affordable housing loss due to significant rent increases, sale of properties, termination of government subsidies, and unsafe conditions; and,
Assisting tenant groups with the establishment and maintenance of their affordable housing limited equity cooperatives to prevent them from converting to market rate housing.
The Foundation has awarded over $2.2 million in the area of foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment in the past two years. Grantees are currently working with more than 16 affordable housing properties under redevelopment, primarily in Wards 1, 5, 7, and 8. Approximately 7,500 low-income DC residents have received free legal assistance and more than 80 foreclosures have been prevented so far. With the influx of an additional $939,000 over the next three years, the Foundation will help thousands more low-income DC residents and prevent hundreds more foreclosures.
These grants were funded by a 2014 settlement on mortgage-related litigation between the U.S. Department of Justice and Bank of America Corporation. The settlement provided that every Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program receive funds for legal aid organizations in its jurisdiction for foreclosure prevention legal assistance and community redevelopment legal assistance. IOLTA exists in every state, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The DC Bar Foundation is the administrator of the DC IOLTA program.
The complete list of grantees and projects is below and available on the DC Bar Foundation’s website (https://dcbarfoundation.org/grants/our-grantees/).
The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to DC poverty lawyers to help with their educational debts.
THE RECIPIENTS OF THE THIRD ROUND OF FORECLOSURE PREVENTION AND COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT GRANTS
FORECLOSURE PREVENTION LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS
LAS Foreclosure Prevention Project ($200,000)
Legal Aid Society of DC provides same-day representation to low-income DC residents in foreclosure cases at DC Superior Court. Their attorneys are present in court every week for the call of the judicial foreclosure calendar to provide information and legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure.
LCE Foreclosure Prevention Project ($224,000)
Legal Counsel for the Elderly’s (LCE) Foreclosure Prevention Project attorneys staff the judicial foreclosure calendar at DC Superior Court every week. LCE attorneys provide information, legal assistance and full representation to low-income DC homeowners facing foreclosure, with a particular focus on elderly homeowners.
COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS
Affordable Housing Initiative ($150,000)
Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless represents tenant associations through the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and zoning processes in order to preserve affordable housing and ensure that the zoning process leads to maximum number of truly affordable units for low-income residents. The attorneys also represent individual tenants in housing conditions-related cases.
Community Preservation Project ($215,000)
Through their Community Preservation Project, Bread for the City and Legal Aid Society of DC combat the causes of affordable housing loss due to significant rent increases, termination of government subsidies, sale of properties, conversion to condominiums, and unsafe conditions. The two organizations are able to work in tandem with one property: while one organization represents the property’s tenant association, the other organization represents individual tenants in other landlord-tenant issues such as housing conditions and wrongful evictions.
Housing Cooperative Preservation Initiative ($150,000)
Through its Housing Cooperative Preservation Initiative Project, Neighborhood Legal Services Program preserves tenant-owned limited equity cooperatives (LECs). The project’s attorneys assist tenant groups develop and maintain their LEC’s administrative infrastructure and governance, advise on regulatory compliance, and provide on-going education and legal advice to LEC board of directors. The project’s goal is to prevent problems that may cause these affordable housing cooperatives to convert to market rate housing.