A dozen lawyers and law students gathered at Judiciary Square on Tuesday morning, October 25 for The Housing Crisis from the Inside: A Guided Tour of D.C. Superior Court’s Landlord and Tenant Branch. This Pro Bono Week event was co-sponsored by Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Neighborhood Legal Services Program; the tour, led by Legal Aid’s Beth Mellen Harrison, sought to educate participants about the lack of safe, affordable housing in the District and the experience of low-income tenants forced to defend themselves in eviction cases in a fast-paced, high-volume court.
Attendees began by listening to the Court’s morning announcement—an overview of information that tenants need to know to effectively participate in court—and observed roll call, where the Court clerk called the nearly 100 eviction cases set for an initial hearing that day. Beth then described how Court works in practice and the challenges facing low-income tenants who don’t have legal counsel.
The tour concluded with information about how attendees can work pro bono to help low-income individuals and families assert their rights and stay in their homes. And if you are interested in doing the same, please email Jodi Feldman at Legal Aid or Heather Hodges at Neighborhood Legal Services Program.