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East of the River Profiles:
Meeting the Community's Legal Needs

East of the River Map

East of the River Profiles highlight the work of lawyers,  law professors, and law students who serve low-income residents in Wards 7 and 8.  Poverty in the District of Columbia is concentrated in certain communities east of the Anacostia River. Lawyers are critical to helping low-income residents in these communities navigate challenges such as finding housing, stabilizing families, and finding jobs.

Providing the necessary legal services to those who live East of the River requires minimizing geographic barriers to accessing legal aid, motivating pro bono lawyers and law students to travel across the river to assist clients, and ensuring that legal aid lawyers are visible and accessible in the community. With East of the River Profiles, we hope to encourage these changes by highlighting the needs of those who live East of the River and the work done by the lawyers serving these communities.

In addition to telling these important stories, we've collected some East of the River resources. We also invite you to participate in the East of the River Casehandlers group.

Finally, we’d love to hear from you! If you have stories, successes, or resources that you’d like us to share, please contact our editors.

An Enduring Legacy: The Partnership between Covington & Burling LLP and the Neighborhood Legal Services Program

03 September 2019   East River of the River Profiles, Featured

The Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) serves disadvantaged communities in Washington D.C. by connecting those in need of legal assistance with free legal services. Thanks to its dedication and its partnering organizations, NLSP has successfully helped hundreds of families obtain justice. But how did NLSP get its start, and who are the key players that have helped it to thrive?

Joining Forces to Bring Legal Services East of the River

19 August 2019   East River of the River Profiles, Featured

The unique clinic partnership between the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia (“Legal Aid”) has had an unparalleled impact on the community East of the Anacostia River. After originally joining forces in Southwest D.C. in 2013, Legal Aid and Kirkland decided in 2015 to move the intake clinic to Legal Aid’s Southeast office at the Anacostia Professional Building, widely known in the community as “the Big Chair.” The decision to move was motivated by a desire to increase resources to address the ever-growing legal needs observed east of the Anacostia River, where one in three residents lives in poverty, and half in “deep poverty” (i.e., incomes at or below 50% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines). The clinic helps residents with legal issues related to housing, family law, domestic violence, public benefits, and consumer law.

TZEDEK DC: Legal Help for People in Debt

30 July 2019   East River of the River Profiles, Featured

Tzedek DC is a relatively new organization, but its mission draws on a very old Jewish teaching: “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof,” meaning “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” While Tzedek DC only opened its doors in February 2017, volunteers had already spent two years interviewing DC residents about the barriers to economic and social stability. They found that debt collection issues, including lawsuits and impaired credit, were major hurdles for an overwhelming number of residents, especially in Wards 7 & 8.  Founder Ariel Levinson-Waldman explains that debt-related crises — and the fact that income debt collection lawsuits are filed disproportionately against African-American and Latinx households — contribute to the deep stratification of wealth along racial lines in DC. He notes that, according to the Urban Institute, white households in DC have a net worth 81 times greater than Black households. Tzedek DC seeks to help change these trends by addressing debt issues through a civil rights lens and by engaging in three strategies to increase access to assistance navigating financial problems.

Safe Sisters Circle: A Welcoming Place

28 May 2019   East River of the River Profiles, Featured | Tags: , , , ,

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Those are the words of Malcolm X, spoken in 1962. And it is the sentiment that motivated Alana Brown to found The Safe Sisters Circle. Founded in 2018, The Safe Sisters Circle is an organization that provides support and healing to black women survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

A Prescription for Healthy Food in Ward 8

29 April 2019   East River of the River Profiles, Featured | Tags: , , , , ,

Produce Rx is a new program to help underserved communities fight illnesses related to poverty and food insecurity in Ward 8.

More Help for the Homeless in Anacostia

05 April 2019   East River of the River Profiles, Featured

On December 4, 2018, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless (WLCH), a local organization looking to provide vital legal services for those who struggle with homelessness and poverty, opened its 7th intake site at the United Planning Organization (UPO) Anacostia Community Service Center.

“Mapping Eviction”: The Eviction Lab Highlights the Eviction Epidemic with Exhibit and Discussion at the National Building Museum

07 February 2019   East River of the River Profiles, Featured

On January 24, James Hendrickson and Lavar Edmonds, of the Eviction Lab, delivered a presentation on the organization’s work, which has established the first dataset and research tool focused on eviction rates in the United States. The talk was held at the National Building Museum, which currently features the “Evicted” exhibit, exploring the causes and impact of evictions through photographs and stories reflecting the affordable housing crisis, on display through May 19, 2019.

The Eviction Lab plans to create a national, centralized database with information they are still gathering, but encourages interested parties to utilize their available studies and research to increase awareness of the housing crisis. All of their data and related work is available for download, free of charge, on their website.

Martha’s Table and Lyft Join Forces to Provide Grocery Access to Residents East of the River

20 December 2018   East River of the River Profiles, Featured

By Jessalyn Schwartz Starting on January 1, 2019, the Lyft Grocery Access Program will offer affordable rides to three East of the River grocery stores for 500 eligible families in an effort to combat common barriers of transportation and access…

RECAP: 2018 DC Pro Bono Week Sealing & Expungement Summit

28 November 2018   East River of the River Profiles, Featured

By Omar Delgadillo On October 26th, D.C. Law Students in Court (LSIC) hosted a Sealing & Expungement Summit at the Department of Employment Services building at their Minnesota Avenue Office in Northeast. This DC Pro Bono Week event connected members of…