Pro Bono
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Mother and Child

For an individual or family already struggling with the daily burdens of living in poverty, the consequences of an eviction can reach far beyond losing one’s home. 驱逐从根本上是不稳定的. It can take months or years to secure a new place to live in the District of Columbia, 哪里的经济适用房供应正在下降. Those without friends or family to rely on in the interim may be forced to live on the streets or in a shelter. 孩子们可能会辍学. The prospect of finding a job or remaining employed becomes much more difficult.

Public and Subsidized Housing Tenants Are Particularly Vulnerable
If a person or family is evicted from public or subsidized housing, they will lose their home and very likely their housing subsidy. 在哥伦比亚特区, where there are 40,有000人在补贴住房等候名单上, 自2013年以来,该公司一直对新申请者关闭, a person who is evicted will almost surely never obtain public housing again.

Landlord and Tenant Court in the District of Columbia
该区的业主和租客法庭很苛刻. 它通常被称为“驱逐法庭”.” Over 34,000 eviction cases are filed annually in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of D.C. Superior Court. 这个法庭的权力严重失衡, where 95 percent of landlords are represented by counsel, 而90% - 95%的租户表示赞成. 没有法律代表, many tenants sign agreements waiving their defenses because they are not aware of their rights.

Cases involving housing subsidies are particularly complex, 而那些看起来很亲民的租户则不会有好下场. Tenants who are represented by counsel have a much greater chance of keeping their housing and their subsidy.

The outcome of a housing case illustrates the difference pro bono representation can make in the life of a family:

三个孩子的母亲, 其中一个是残疾人, was sued by her landlord for eviction over a few hundred dollars in unpaid rent. Meanwhile, the landlord had ignored multiple housing code violations including a lack of hot water, roach infestation, 天花板上的一个洞, 和不实用的电器. Pro bono counsel 通过D分配.C. Bar Pro Bono Center 解决客户的案子. The landlord was required to make necessary repairs, and the client kept her housing subsidy. Her family now lives in a place that is more healthy, safe, and secure.

住房权利顾问项目: A Community-Wide Response
In 2013, the D.C. 酒吧公益服务中心.C. 诉诸司法委员会 brought together the legal services community and the private bar to address the housing crisis in the District. 这种努力的结果是D.C. Right to Housing Initiative, a multi-pronged effort with the following four broad goals:

• Provide counsel to tenants facing eviction from subsidized or public housing;
• Revamp the broken shelter and emergency housing system;
• Preserve existing affordable housing and increase production of affordable housing; and
• Litigate to enforce fair housing laws and advocate for policy changes.

The 住房权利顾问项目 is a key piece of this groundbreaking initiative. The project aims to dramatically reduce evictions by increasing access to pro bono representation for people living in subsidized housing, 谁是特别脆弱的租户. The 住房权利顾问项目 guarantees free representation to a percentage of subsidized housing tenants who are sued for eviction.

The significant impact of pro bono representation is evident: A recent analysis demonstrated that 住房权利顾问项目 clients are 5 times less likely to get a writ of restitution (the order that allows U.S. 法警安排驱逐)和3.5 times more likely to enter into settlement agreements.

The 住房权利顾问项目 is a collaborative effort between District legal services providers and law firms. In addition to除了.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, participating organizations include Bread for the City, 哥伦比亚特区法律援助协会, 和老年人法律顾问. 已有14家im体育苹果事务所签署了该项目的协议. 四家im体育苹果事务所,盛德国际im体育苹果事务所,欧华im体育苹果事务所,詹纳im体育苹果事务所 & 布洛克和霍根·洛弗尔斯与D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center to accept subsidized housing cases.

Past D.C. Bar President Timothy Webster has personally seen the impact of this initiative.

“I have taken two cases and they have been eye-opening. Sitting in my comfortable office at Sidley Austin it is hard to imagine there are people who can’t afford to pay their $100 share of subsidized rent some months or whose apartments are so cold in the winter that their family has to live and sleep in the living room for warmth. 但是在我们的社区里有很多这样的人, and this initiative is designed to get them the help they need in their time of crisis.”

We aspire to offer counsel to all tenants living in subsidized housing who are facing eviction as pro bono and staff resources increase.

D.C. 住房权利倡议合作伙伴
Bread for the City
D.C. 诉诸司法委员会
D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center
D.C. 法律系学生出庭
Empower DC
Equal Rights Center
Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law Center
Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

For more information, please contact Housing Staff Attorney Lauren King at [email protected].