By Sierra Blanchard-Hodge
Our 2015 Legal Services Award goes to Rebecca Lindhurst, a Managing Attorney in the Legal Clinic at Bread for the City. Rebecca has worked with Bread for the City since she arrived in DC in 2002, and she has demonstrated an uncommon devotion to serving members of the low-income community. At the same time, she has worked tirelessly to build associations and create programs to ensure that even more low-income tenants have access to representation, and to seek policy changes leading to better protection of tenants’ rights.
Rebecca has taken on hundreds of cases to help keep tenants in their homes. She has fought side-by-side with tenants to obtain needed apartment repairs and to ensure their housing is safe. Early in her career, she represented tenants in four buildings in their battle against one of DC’s most notorious slumlords. She went on to assist several other tenant groups featured in the Washington Post’s Forced Out series; this ultimately led the Fenty Administration to file a lawsuit against some of the city’s worst landlords. More recently, she represented the tenants of a building in Ward 7 in their yearlong battle to purchase their apartment building and convert it to a limited-equity cooperative.
Rebecca also has organized many new programs to assist low-income tenants, often developing innovative partnerships with other organizations. She helped to create the Bread for the City Community Lawyering Project, as well as the Court-Based Representation Project, which works with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia to provide on-the-spot representation to tenants at Landlord-Tenant Court. Rebecca was instrumental in developing the Landlord Tenant Resource Center and continues to support it. She headed the Bread for the City’s participation in the Housing Right to Counsel Pilot Project, a joint effort with Legal Aid, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center to provide representation to tenants who live in subsidized housing and face eviction. And she serves as a co-leader of the DC Affordable Housing Alliance, a coalition of over 30 organizations and advocates working to preserve and expand affordable housing in DC.
Finally, Rebecca has worked to produce systemic changes in housing policy. She has advocated before the DC Council and was a key player in convincing the Council to take a greater interest in housing code enforcement, resulting in the creation of D.C. Superior Court’s Housing Conditions Docket and the Proactive Inspections program at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. She also assists in efforts to persuade the DC Housing Authority to adopt policies that will protect the rights of tenants and participants in DCHA’s programs.
With her unique combination of direct representation, partnerships with other groups, and policy advocacy, Rebecca Lindhurst is as versatile a legal-services lawyer as you’ll find. We are delighted to present her with our 2015 Legal Services Award.