On February 10, DC Bar Foundation CEO Kirra Jarratt testified at the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants Performance Oversight hearing in front of the DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. The Performance Oversight hearing gives organizations like the DC Bar Foundation a vital opportunity to share their successes over the last year, made possible by funding from the Council. In her testimony, Kirra highlighted three overarching achievements of the Access to Justice Initiative in FY22 and 23, reflecting a significant return on the generous investment made by the Council:
Expanded Support in Housing-Related Matters. We continue to prioritize the housing needs of District residents, and our grantees have created new housing-related programs that keep tenants in their homes. The Landlord-Tenant Legal Assistance Network is comprised of six DC Bar Foundation Civil Legal Counsel Project Program grantees who created a single phone line that litigants needing representation can call for support. The Eviction Diversion Project is a collaborative effort by Foundation grantees to prevent evictions by reaching at-risk tenants as early as possible.
Met Significant Milestones in Making it Easier for DC Residents to Navigate our Civil Legal Aid System. We have, alongside our partners, made notable progress in developing a Coordinated Intake and Referral system (CIR). We have compiled DC resident feedback on CIR’s design, begun building a comprehensive database of all DC legal aid providers, conducted user testing with District residents, and continued to prioritize ongoing evaluation to inform the development of CIR.
Continued to Evaluate OVSJG-Funded Programs to Ensure Impact. Evaluation is a critical component of our efforts to transform the delivery of civil legal aid in the District. We have closely evaluated two major projects – the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program (CLCPP) and the Landlord-Tenant Legal Assistance Network (LTLAN) – and other community partnerships related to housing matters. Recent CLCPP evaluations show that from August 2019 – September 2022, CLCPP partners closed 6,777 eviction and voucher termination cases. CLCPP evaluations also show that, after adjusting their service structure to respond to the end of the eviction moratorium, CLCPP attorneys kept over 70% of tenants served in their homes. LTLAN evaluations show that nearly two-thirds of participants reported accessing legal services to be easier when using the LTLAN.
Ultimately, the Foundation’s mission is to help DC residents in every ward have a just and fair legal experience with access to the resources and services they need. The Access to Justice Initiative is critical to ensuring the wellbeing of all District residents, and the Council’s continued investment in this initiative has been instrumental to its success.