March 13, 2009

Access to Justice Commission Advocates for Continued Public Funding

Peter Edelman, Chairman of the District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission, went before the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, requesting that the Mayor and Council maintain their funding of civil legal services for DC residents, which currently stands at $3.6 million.

Mr. Edleman provided excellent testimony. Some of the highlights:
  • More than 3,000 people received legal assistance with public funds last year.

  • More than 200 evictions were stopped, thereby saving the DC government $5.4 million in shelter costs.

  • The average poverty lawyer in DC has school debt of nearly $100,000. Public funds pay for the District of Columbia Poverty Lawyer Loan Repayment Program-- a program that enables them to remain working for nonprofits serving the most vulnerable DC residents.
I loaded Mr. Edelman's full testimony to our website. If you're interested in the very specific and important services legal funding provides, you will certainly find it in this very lucid testimony.

I should note that Bread for the City Staff Attorney Su Sie Ju is a member of the Commission, and that three of our housing attorneys are fully funded by these public funds.

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