“Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news. Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don’t have food – that’s not news. This is grave. We can’t rest easy while things are this way.”

~Pope Francis

The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless envisions a just and inclusive community for all residents of the District of Columbia, where housing is a human right and where every individual and family has equal access to the resources they need to thrive.

Our mission is to use the law to make justice a reality for our neighbors who struggle with homelessness and poverty.  Combining community lawyering and advocacy to achieve our clients’ goals, our expert staff and network of volunteer attorneys provide low barrier, comprehensive legal services at intake sites throughout the District of Columbia, helping our clients to access housing, shelter, and life-saving services.  Rooted in the experiences of this client work, we effectively blend system reform efforts, policy advocacy, community education and client engagement to advocate for long term improvements in local and federal programs that serve the low- and no-income community.

Legal Representation

Legal Assistance Project (LAP): Through our flagship pro bono project, the Legal Clinic’s network of over 250 volunteer lawyers and paralegals assist clients on a broad range of civil legal issues.  Volunteers provide low-barrier legal services by meeting clients at community sites, located at day centers, dining programs, and medical clinics. Working closely with Legal Clinic staff, LAP volunteers provide the legal assistance necessary to help these clients address the issues that keep them mired in homelessness. LAP allows us to tap the generosity of the DC legal community and, each year, leverage millions of dollars in donated legal services.

Homeless Families Initiative: Previously known as Project Link-Up, the Homeless Families Initiative aims to ensure that families who are homeless have access to the resources and supports they need to be safe, remain strong and ultimately move their and their children’s lives to a better place.  Through the Homeless Families Initiative, we help families to secure and retain shelter and housing, and we work with families to ensure their access to supports such as transportation assistance so their children can remain in school, counseling for survivors of domestic violence, mental health treatment or substance abuse counseling and employment supports.

Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI): AHI combines legal representation of tenant associations, systemic reform, and policy advocacy to build political will for the preservation and expansion of affordable housing, and to fight the displacement of low-income and working-class DC residents. We work closely with tenant organizers and often with the support of pro bono lawyers to preserve and improve truly affordable housing opportunities for District residents through this homelessness prevention initiative.

Attorney of the Day Project: Legal Clinic staff attorneys are on call during office hours to provide emergency advice and advocacy for those who have pressing legal issues that fall within Legal Clinic case types.

Systemic Change

Budget and Policy Advocacy: Our staff engages in advocacy work with partner organizations and community members around DC budget and policy priorities and accountability surrounding homeless services and affordable housing. Our advocacy is rooted in the experience of our direct legal service work, and is approached from the foundational principle that our role is not to speak for our clients, but to amplify community voice.

Grassroots Community Engagement: We support clients and the broader community who seek to use their voices and engage in public decision-making processes that affect their lives, through outreach, education, advocacy at DC Council, and Know Your Rights talks.

Rights Presentations: Our staff builds public awareness and furthers anti-criminalization of homelessness through presentations on the lawful and humane treatment of people who are experiencing homelessness to law enforcement, public library staff, business improvement districts, and other interested groups.

Patty Mullahy Fugere, Executive Director, (202) 328-5504, patty@legalclinic.org

Co-Founder and former Board President of the Legal Clinic, Patty has served as our Executive Director since 1991. Patty is responsible for the overall management of the Legal Clinic and guides the organization’s work toward realizing its vision of a just and inclusive Washington, DC. Prior to joining the Legal Clinic staff, Patty engaged in the private practice of law for seven years, specializing in affordable housing and homelessness issues.

Patty is an adjunct faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she co-teaches a course on “Homelessness, Poverty and Legal Advocacy” with Legal Clinic colleague Amber Harding. She is a member of the DC Access to Justice Commission and chairs the board of directors of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

Patty studied government and economics at Georgetown University and received a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. She holds honorary degrees from the Georgetown University Law Center and Kings College.


  • 2014 – The District Alliance for Safe Housing Keystone Award for Leadership in the Development of Safe Housing for Victims of Domestic Violence.
  • 2011 – The Gray Panthers of Metro Washington Geraldine Brittain Award
  • 2009 -DC Bar William J. Brennan, Jr. Award for service in the public interest
  • 2000 – The Legal Aid Society of DC Servant of Justice Award
  • 1998 – DC Bar Foundation Jerrold Scoutt Prize

Renata Aguilera-Titus, Communications Manager, (202) 328-1263, renata@legalclinic.org

Renata joined the Legal Clinic as Volunteer Coordinator in 2016, and has served as Communications Manager since February 2017. She coordinates social media and blog content, strategic communication, and visuals for the Legal Clinic.

Prior to joining the Legal Clinic, Renata served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Gresham, Oregon with El Programa Hispano Católico, providing culturally specific anti-poverty and social services. She then served as bilingual intake coordinator at the D.C. Bar Pro Center, conducting intake on poverty law matters, serving as a main point of contact for clients, and coordinating clinic logistic. In graduate school, Renata assisted with applied policy research on transparency and accountability campaigns and citizen engagement.

Renata studied Spanish language literature and sociology at Loyola University Maryland, and received a master’s degree focused on intercultural communication from the American University School of International Service.

LaJuan Brooks, Administrative Assistant, (202) 328-5500, lajuan@legalclinic.org

LaJuan joined the staff of the Legal Clinic in 2007, with prior experience assisting the Fair Budget Coalition and being an advocate for the homeless population in DC.

LaJuan is the first point of contact for all Legal Clinic clients and potential clients, working to assure that our neighbors who are homeless are connected to the assistance and resources that they need. She also supports our volunteers, helping to facilitate their connections with their clients. LaJuan also provides general administrative support for our staff members. LaJuan is a proud veteran of the US Army.

Caitlin Cocilova, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-5516, caitlin.cocilova@legalclinic.org

Caitlin joined the Legal Clinic in October 2016. As staff attorney, she represents clients seeking access to emergency shelter and affordable housing, conducts Know Your Rights talks at singles’ and family shelters. Caitlin co-created People Power Action, a community group within the Legal Clinic, and engages in community and policy advocacy efforts.

Prior to joining the Legal Clinic, Caitlin completed a legal fellowship in Western Pennsylvania where she provided free employment and immigration assistance to low-wage immigrant workers.

Caitlin studied political science, pre-med, and leadership at the University of Pittsburgh and received a law degree from Georgetown University.

Akela Crawford, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-1260, akela.crawford@legalclinic.org

Akela joined the Legal Clinic in January 2017 as a Legal Assistance Project staff attorney, and joined the Legal Clinic Affordable Housing Initiative in January 2018.

Akela has experience working at DC Public Schools, where she focused on IDEA compliance and policy. After leaving DC Public Schools, Akela joined the law firm, Hiligh-Thomas & Jones, where she focused primarily on corporate and regulatory compliance, business transactions, and consumer affairs. Prior to joining the Legal Clinic staff, Akela was the managing attorney at the Law Office of Akela D. Crawford where she focused on small business representation, consumer affairs and family law. Prior to joining the Legal Clinic staff, Akela was a volunteer attorney with the Legal Assistance Project, and was the recipient of the Legal Clinic 2016 Rising Star Award. She also serves on the Community Volunteer Circle for Girls on the Run-DC and The Washington Bar Association- Young Lawyers Division.

Akela majored in history and political science at North Carolina Central University, and received a law degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Amber W. Harding, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-5503, amber@legalclinic.org

Amber has been with the Legal Clinic since initially joining the staff as a Steptoe & Johnson Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2003. Through direct legal representation and policy advocacy, Amber advocates for the rights of District of Columbia residents to access emergency shelter and affordable housing. Her work focuses on: improving the disability-rights compliance of DC, particularly the DC-funded emergency shelter system; moving towards a right to housing; developing, improving, and increasing subsidized housing resources (including permanent supportive housing and the Local Rent Supplement Program); enforcing the right to shelter in severe weather and the ability to access safe shelter year-round; improving access to the courts; and fighting zoning discrimination and “NIMBYism” that prevent the siting of affordable housing and supportive services across the city. Amber founded and directed the David M. Booth Disability Rights Initiative.

Amber is an adjunct faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she co-teaches a course on “Homelessness, Poverty and Legal Advocacy” with Patty Mullahy Fugere. She is on the steering committees of the Fair Budget Coalition and the Way Home Campaign. She is also an elected member of the steering committee of the DC Bar’s Courts, Lawyers, and the Administration of Justice Community.

Amber studied anthropology at the University of Arizona, and received a law degree from Georgetown University.


  • 2013 – Professional Women In Advocacy Award for Excellence in a State Advocacy Campaign.
  • 2013 – SHARC (Shelter, Housing and Respectful Change) honored Amber for her “deep commitment to and outstanding legal support for Washington DC’s homeless.”
  • 2011 – The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law Federal Practice Manual for Legal Aid Attorneys cited Amber’s work on improving the accessibility of emergency shelters as a “particularly noteworthy” example of a successful reform campaign.
  • 2007 – Citizen Advocateaward from the DC Center for Independent Living.
  • 2003 – Abramson Fellowship from the Abramson Foundation

Dea C. Lott, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-5512, dea.lott@legalclinic.org

Dea joined the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless as a Case Counseling Attorney with the Legal Assistance Project in 2014.  Her duties include developing community intake site partnerships; recruiting pro bono attorneys and partners; training community intake site partners, pro bono attorneys, and paralegals on legal topics; and providing case strategy assistance to pro bono attorneys as they represent clients.  She also conducts community legal rights talks, represents clients, and serves on multiple internal committees – recently, serving as the lead coordinator of the Legal Clinic’s Anti-Racism Training Committee.

Dea previously held positions as a Clinical Adjunct Professor of Law and the Director of Outreach for her alma mater, the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where she created and managed a pro bono program for alumni and co-taught in the law school’s clinical program.  She evaluated disability appeals as an Attorney-Advisor for the U.S. Social Security Administration and she worked on government contracts as a Staff Attorney in the Office of the General Counsel of the Indiana Department of Child Services.  As a Staff Attorney at Indiana Legal Services, Dea litigated a variety of civil cases in state and federal tribunals; led an internal attorney training program; and coordinated a training program for a statewide continuing legal education conference.  As a law student, she served as a Law Clerk for the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission and she served as a Legal Intern for the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Dea is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia.  She is admitted to practice, but is currently inactive, before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and the Indiana Supreme Court.


  • 2016 – ONE DC Carry the Water Award for advocacy training and administrative support provided to a client-led campaign for affordable housing preservation.

Kristi Matthews, Kressley Fellow For Grass Roots Advocacy and Grass Roots Advocacy Coordinator, (202) 328-1262, kristi@legalclinic.org

Kristi joined the Legal Clinic in 2006, and focuses on helping families, individuals, and youth in the District develop advocacy skills, targeting policies and budgets that help move people out of poverty.

Kristi has developed several workshops and trainings that assist members of the community in using their power and understanding the importance of working towards systemic change. These trainings are completed at various programs that serve people who are experiencing poverty, as well community spaces such as libraries and schools. Kristi also helps people develop testimony and write letters to city officials to ensure that their stories are heard, and she supports other “know your rights” workshops that the Legal Clinic conducts. Kristi co-created People Power Action, a community group within the Legal Clinic, and works on increasing the Legal Clinic’s community engagement by supporting various community led initiatives throughout the District.  Kristi holds degrees in Community Justice, Psychology, and a Masters’ in Social Psychology and Clinical Mental Health Counseling – and uses this background for a holistic approach to supporting community members in order to change systems that they deal with daily.

Kristi has an extensive background working with youth, most recently as an instructor through Black Swan Academy, where her work focused on discovering pride, power, and purpose in the lives of youth in NE and SE DC as well as with their communities.


  • 2016 – ONE DC Carrying The Water Award
  • 2011 – Guilford College Harrington-Harvey Bonner Alumni Award
  • 2010 – DC Jobs With Justice I’ll Be there Award


Scott McNeilly, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-5508, scott@legalclinic.org

Scott joined the Legal Clinic in 1994, and is a Legal Assistance Project case-counseling attorney. Scott case counsels volunteers working with clients through the Miriam’s Kitchen site, and the Mobile Intake Unit, which was launched in summer 2017. Scott participates in volunteer training and support, working closely with the Volunteer Coordinator. Scott has particular expertise in SSI/SSDI benefits, as well as Interim Disability Assistance, and provides mentorship and support to pro bono attorneys and the DC legal services community throughout DC.

Prior to joining the Legal Clinic, Scott spent over five years at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau where he handled domestic violence, child welfare, landlord-tenant, consumer and public benefits cases.


  • 2004 – DC Bar Foundation  Jerrold Scoutt Prize, recognizing his outstanding work on behalf of our clients.

Will Merrifield, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-5502, will.merrifield@legalclinic.org

Will joined the Legal Clinic in 2011 as staff attorney with the Affordable Housing Initiative. Will focuses on preserving and expanding the supply of affordable and subsidized housing for low-income residents of DC. He represents tenant associations in affordable housing preservation cases and advocates with various DC government agencies for the creation and preservation of affordable housing. He also conducts trainings on the rights of tenants and tenant associations.

Prior to joining the Legal Clinic, Will worked with Legal Aid of Western Ohio initially as an AmeriCorps attorney on their Homelessness Prevention and Housing Opportunity Project and then as a staff attorney focusing on housing and consumer law.

Will studied history at The Ohio State University, and received a law degree from the University of Dayton.

Becky O’Brien, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-5507, becky@legalclinic.org

Becky initially joined the Legal Clinic in 2000 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, and remained on staff until moving to Boston in 2003, she rejoined the staff upon returning to the DC area in 2008. Becky is a case counseling attorney with the Legal Assistance Project, supporting volunteer attorneys who take cases through the Thrive DC and Street Sense Media intake sites. Becky also engages in systemic advocacy related to DC’s public benefits programs.

While in Boston, Becky was a staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services working in the Elder and Housing Units, specializing in public benefits cases and landlord and tenant issues.

Becky studied psychology and peace studies at Boston College, and received a law degree from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law.

Leslie Plant, Administrator

Leslie has been with the Legal Clinic as our administrator since 1988. She developed her management, administrative and data system skills at Partners for Livable Places and the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment.

Leslie is responsible for fiscal operations, including bookkeeping, payroll, budget preparation, reporting, filing organizational and tax reports, and annual audit. Leslie also provides fundraising support, and office and information management. She troubleshoots our technology and other office systems.

Ann Marie Staudenmaier, Staff Attorney, (202) 328-5509, annmarie@legalclinic.org

Ann Marie joined the Legal Clinic staff in 1996, and is a case-counseling attorney for the Legal Assistance Project. Ann Marie spends much of her time conducting trainings, mentoring and case counseling volunteer attorneys at Legal Assistance Project intake sites SOME (So Others Might Eat) and Unity Health Care Minnesota Ave. NE, in addition to maintaining her own caseload. Ann Marie coordinates all the police-related civil rights work in the office, including monitoring police treatment of homeless persons in DC; researching trends in criminalization of homelessness and working on efforts to combat this around the country through Homes Not Handcuffs; conducting Street Rights seminars; doing outreach and education to local businesses on the rights of homeless persons; working on litigation strategies related to criminalization issues in DC; and conducting Homelessness 101 trainings for all Metropolitan Police Department recruit classes and other law enforcement agencies in D.C.

Prior to joining the Legal Clinic, Ann Marie worked for several years at Maryland’s Legal Aid Bureau as both a staff attorney and Chief Attorney in various local offices. She is a poverty law generalist, having practiced in virtually every area of civil legal services over the past 30 years.

Ann Marie studied journalism at University of Wisconsin, and received her law degree from George Washington University.

Max Tipping, Spitzer Fellow, (202) 328-5514, max.tipping@legalclinic.org

Max joined the Legal Clinic in 2015 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig and Steptoe & Johnson, and continues on staff as a Spitzer Fellow. Max’s Equal Justice Works fellowship project focused on preventing families in the District’s rapid re-housing program from returning to homelessness using legal representation and policy advocacy. He is the author of the 2017 report, Set Up to Fail: Rapid Re-housing in the District of Columbia.

Prior to law school, Max served as the Executive Director of the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, Inc.

Max studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Florida, and graduated with high honors from The George Washington University Law School.

Kelsey Vaughan, Volunteer Coordinator, (202) 328-1024, kelsey.vaughan@legalclinic.org

Kelsey joined the Legal Clinic team in January of 2017. She manages the Legal Assistance Project (LAP) volunteer training program and intake calendar, and is responsible for volunteer recruitment, sustainability, and coordination for both LAP and outreach to families experiencing housing crises. Kelsey is the liaison between the Legal Clinic and a number of law firms and schools throughout the District of Columbia. In addition, Kelsey organizes volunteer events, discussion series, and community presentations on behalf of the Legal Clinic.

Kelsey’s experience prior to joining the Legal Clinic includes an internship in the United States Senate, work in marketing and outreach for the National Wildlife Federation, and partnering with the Washington Humane Alliance to provide volunteer training, assist in event planning and management, and contribute to advocacy and fundraising efforts.


John R. Jacob, Esq., Akin Gump, President

Susan M. Hoffman, Esq., Crowell & Moring, Vice President

James E. Rocap III, Esq., Steptoe & Johnson, Treasurer

Sterling Morriss Howard, Esq., Equal Justice Works, Secretary

Ericka Aiken

Cheryl K. Barnes, Freelance Homeless Activist

Nancy Tyler Bernstine, Esq., Consultant, Affordable Housing

Laurie B. Davis, Esq.

Nkechi Feaster

Wesley R. Heppler, Esq.

Allison M. Holt, Esq., Hogan Lovells

John Monahan

Sam Mondry-Cohen, Washington Nationals Baseball Club, Director, Baseball Research & Development

David E. Rogers, Esq., Winston & Strawn

Valerie E. Ross, Esq., Schiff Hardin LLP

Tiana L. Russell, Esq.

Jeff Schwaber, Esq., Stein, Sperling

Effie Smith, Executive Director, Consumer Action Network

Marsha Tucker, Pro Bono Coordinator, Arnold & Porter

Laura Tuell, Esq., Jones Day

David Wittenstein, Esq., Cooley



The Legal Clinic was founded in 1986 with the encouragement and support of the DC Bar and DC Bar Foundation, with the goal of breaking down the barriers that prevented the homeless and low-income population in Washington, DC from accessing legal assistance through traditional methods. Since that time, the Legal Clinic has played a major role in protecting the rights and advancing the interests of those who are homeless in the nation’s capital.  Set out below is the story of the Legal Clinic’s growth and the District’s response to homelessness.

Timeline of Homelessness in DC and the Work of the Legal Clinic

November 1984 – DC voters overwhelmingly support Initiative 17, establishing a “right to shelter” in the District, the first statutory right to shelter in the nation

Summer 1985 – DC attorney David Crosland convenes the Ad Hoc Committee for the Homeless under the auspices of the DC Bar

December 1985 – First recruitment session for volunteer lawyers, held at the DC Bar

1986 – Pro Bono lawyers begin to serve four pilot intake sites, supported by volunteers Gloria Flanagan and Faye Williams

Summer 1986 – DC Bar Foundation makes first grant to support the pilot project of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Homeless.  The DC Bar, through both Bar leadership (Judge Paul L. Friedman was then-President of the DC Bar) as well as its Office of Public Service Activities (now the DC Bar Pro Bono Program), lends its full support to the project

Fall 1986 -The project hires first staff person, Susie Sinclair-Smith, as coordinator

May 1987 – The pilot project becomes the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, an independently incorporated non-profit organization.  Mental Health Law Project (now the Bazelon Center) served as fiscal sponsor until tax-exempt status was granted

1987 – DC Bar wins the Harrison Tweed Award for its role in launching the Legal Clinic

Fall 1987 – GULC students, led by Jeff Schwaber, hatch the idea to hold a basketball game pitting Members of Congress against Georgetown Law Faculty to raise money for a homeless charity

1987 – Legal Clinic moves from DC Bar PSA’s office to space donated by Pettit & Martin

1987 – DC council passes law requiring that homeless families be sheltered in an apartment-style setting rather than in run-down motels (the “Crawford Legislation”)

March 1988 – First Home Court game raises $42,000 for the Legal Clinic

1989 – Judge Harriet Taylor finds DC shelters to be “horrendous” and “virtual hell-holes” in Atchison vs. Barry, brought by Howrey & Simon

1990 – Shea & Gardner “adopts” the Legal Clinic from Pettit & Martin and provides office space to the growing program

June 1990 – Then-Mayor Marion Barry signs law repealing the District’s Right to Shelter

July 1990 – Anti-homelessness activist Mitch Snyder dies

October 1990 – Judge Richard Levie finds the District’s family shelter system out of compliance with DC law in Fountain vs. Barry, brought by O’Melveny & Myers

November 1990 – Advocates’ attempt to reverse the repeal of the District’s Right to Shelter fails when Referendum 005 lost by a 51% – 49% vote in the general election

December 1990 – Franklin vs. Barry is filed by Crowell & Moring, challenging the District’s failure to process emergency food stamps in compliance with the law

1992 – The Legal Clinic joins with Hogan & Hartson in filing Little vs. Barry, challenging the District’s scaling back of the General Public Assistance Program, which provided cash support to individuals with disabilities

April 1993 – The Legal Clinic  receives a Commendation from President Clinton in his Volunteer Action Awards Program

1993 – WLCH vs. Kelly is filed by Howrey & Simon, challenging illegalities in the District’s family shelter intake system and seeking to protect counsel’s right of access to their clients

1993 – The Legal Clinic  joins with Covington & Burling to file Pearson vs. Kelly, challenging the unlawful operation of the District’s public housing program.

1993 – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announces the “DC Initiative,” a partnership with the District government and local non-profit organizations to pilot the development of a “Continuum of Care” shelter system

November 1993 – The Legal Clinic  issues “Cold, Harsh and Unending Resistance:  The District of Columbia Government’s Hidden War Against its Poor and its Homeless,” which chronicles the utter breakdown of government services and programs for low income DC residents.

November 1993 – Yetta Adams dies homeless in a bus shelter in front of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development

1994 – Judge Steffan Graae orders the DC public housing program placed into eceivership (Pearson);  the District appeals

Summer 1994 – The Legal Clinic co-convenes advocates and service providers who unite to challenge unfair budget cuts in the wake of the District financial crisis.  This effort becomes the Fair Budget Coalition

August 1994 – The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness issues its Operational Plan for Year 1 of the DC Initiative

Late 1994 – The Legal Clinic testifies before Congress regarding the impact of DC’s financial crisis on residents of DC who are homeless

1994 – The Legal Clinic  helps to establish Campaign for New Community, a multi-faceted advocacy effort to break down the barriers created by neighborhood opposition to the siting of programs for people who are poor, homeless or disabled

1995 – Legal Clinic expands to include an outreach component and intensifies efforts to provide assistance during hypothermic conditions

1995 – Financial Control Board appointed to take over management of the District

1995 – Fair Budget Coalition and other community groups seek to have “Declaration of Emergency” in the District because of the shredded social safety net and palpable suffering of DC’s low income residents

Spring 1995 – David Gilmore becomes receiver of the DC Housing Authority (Pearson)

1996 – District repeals local Emergency Assistance and General Public Assistance programs

Fall 1996 – The Legal Clinic expands our work with homeless families

December 1996 – Mental Health department placed into receivership

1997 – Legal Clinic convenes the Welfare Advocates Group to participate in, and monitor, welfare reform efforts in the District

1998 – District abolishes the Tenant Assistance Program, a locally-funded rent subsidy program serving low-income DC residents

1998 – DC Initiative ends; the Legal Clinic continues to push for reforms concerning the management of homeless services

1998 – The Legal Clinic begins training of Metropolitan Police recruits on issue of homelessness

1999 – The Legal Clinic and Fair Budget Coalition sponsor Campaign for a Just and Inclusive Community, whose Creed of Justice and Inclusion was adopted by 300+ community organizations and District residents

1999 – The Legal Clinic  joins with Akin Gump to file Hackett vs. JMC Associateson behalf of more than 200 mental health consumers whose benefits had been stolen by a Department of Mental Health contractor

March 2000 – The Legal Clinic convenes advocates to challenge District’s proposed condemnations of Columbia Heights apartment buildings housing low-income immigrants

June 2000 – Mayor Williams establishes Homeless Advisory Group

2000 – DC Housing Authority comes out of receivership

2000 – The Legal Clinic launches a Welfare Hotline to provide assistance to recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

October 2000 – The Legal Clinic begins to publish and distribute “Listen Up,” a monthly newsletter for our client community

December 2000 – Mayor Williams abandons Homeless Advisory Group and establishes Continuum of Care Work Group

December 23, 2000 – Jesus Blanco dies homeless on the street, just steps away from La Casa Shelter

Fall 2002 – Legal Clinic establishes Affordable Housing Initiative to intensify efforts to preserve and expand affordable housing for the lowest income District residents

January 2003 – Mayor Williams abandons Continuum of Care Work Group and establishes a Focus Group on Access to Housing for Homeless and Very Low Income City Residents

2003 – The Legal Clinic, along with So Others Might Eat, successfully co-leads community advocacy to establish the Interim Disability Assistance Program

2003 – Housing Production Trust Fund becomes vital tool for development of affordable housing for low-income DC residents

Fall 2003 – The Legal Clinic expands advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities who seek access to shelter and housing, establishing the Disability Rights Initiative

November 2003 – The Public Welfare Foundation provides a new home to the Legal Clinic, inviting us into their True Reformer Building in the Shaw neighborhood of DC

Spring 2004 – District government closes Gales Shelter; begins trend of siting shelters in remote locations towards the fringes of the city

Late 2004 – Agreement reached in Hackett vs. JMC Associates to compensate mental health consumers for theft of funds

December 2004 – DC Court of Appeals establishes the DC Access to Justice Commission to aid in breaking down the barriers that prevent low-income and isolated communities from accessing civil legal assistance

January 2005 – Mayor Williams issues “Homeless No More,” his administration’s 10 year plan to end homelessness

July 2005 – Mayor Williams signs into law the Homeless Services Reform Act, which revamps the legislative framework of the District’s homeless shelter and services system, establishing an Interagency Council on Homelessness and setting out client rights and responsibilities as well as provider standards

September 2005 – Legal Clinic joins with DC Bar Pro Bono Program and Hogan & Hartson to coordinate the Katrina Relief Clinic, to provide legal services to people who relocated to the District from the devastated Gulf Coast

Fall 2005 – Legal Clinic expands efforts to assist homeless children and youth; supports homeless parents’ advocacy efforts as they form SASS (Self-Advocacy, Support and Solutions)

October 2005 – Then-Councilmember Fenty holds unprecedented hearing at DC Village family shelter to get feedback from residents on the quality of services and supports

Winter 2005 – District government closes Randall Shelter

2006 – Legal Clinic participates in Fair Budget Coalition and Affordable Housing Alliance’s successful efforts to establish publicly-funded Emergency Assistance and Rent Supplement programs

Spring 2006 – District government renews threats to close Franklin Shelter

Summer 2006 – Residents of Franklin Shelter form the “Committee to Save Franklin Shelter” to oppose the scheduled closing of the facility

Fall 2006 – Legal Clinic expands our grass roots advocacy efforts to support our clients as they use their voices to speak in the public debates that impact their lives

October 2006 – Deputy Mayor announces that Franklin will remain open and in the homeless services inventory

November/December 2006 – The Legal Clinic co-convenes the Homelessness Work Group of the Fenty Transition team

December 2006 – The Legal Clinic co-leads coalition to advocate for greater accessibility to government services for people with disabilities; the Disability Rights Protection Act becomes law

January 2007 – Mayor Adrian Fenty declares that addressing the needs of people who are homeless is a top priority of his administration

2007 – The Legal Clinic launches Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative advocating for the transition of the District of Columbia’s homeless services system from one that emphasizes emergency shelter, to one that focuses on providing permanent supportive housing options for people who have struggled with homelessness.

2007 – Legal Clinic attorney Scott McNeilly is appointed to the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness

October 2007 – The District Government shuts down DC Village as an emergency shelter for homeless families

April 2008 – Fenty Administration announces its Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative, intended to move people who are chronically homeless off the street and out of shelters into their own housing

September 2008 – The District Government closes the Franklin Shelter, the one remaining men’s emergency shelter in downtown DC

December 10, 2008 – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a consent agreement with the District to improve the accessibility of emergency homeless shelters for people with disabilities. It is the first large-scale enforcement effort by DOJ in the nation intended to protect the civil rights of people experiencing homelessness.

2009 – The Legal Clinic launches Veteran’s Initiative which provides direct legal representation to Veteran’s particularly in the areas of benefits and housing.

July 2009 – The Legal Clinic re-names disability rights initiative The David M. Booth Disability Rights Initiative, to honor the memory of former intern David Booth

December 2009 – The Legal Clinic establishes a social media presence, joining Facebook

July 2010 – The Legal Clinic launches its blog, “…With Housing and Justice for All”

November 2010 – The Legal Clinic’s long time and beloved outreach worker, Mary Ann Luby, O.P., dies

May 2011 – The Legal Clinic’s budget advocacy campaign, the1500.com, successfully advocates for funding to avoid the loss of up to 1500 shelter beds for single individuals

2012 – The Legal Clinic marks its 25th anniversary of serving DC’s homeless residents.  A Journey Home, a short film about several Legal Clinic clients and their efforts to secure a stable place to call home is released as a part of the 25th anniversary call-to-action

May 2013 – The Legal Clinic successfully leads a community advocacy effort to prevent harmful changes to the Homeless Services Reform Act

2013 – Mayor Vincent Gray commits $100 million to affordable housing

Home Page next to address 12th and USince  2003, the Public Welfare Foundation has provided our office space in the historic True Reformer Building, located on U Street in the Shaw community of Washington, DC. The Foundation’s generosity has allowed us to devote our resources more fully to our work. In giving a home to the Legal Clinic, the Public Welfare Foundation has been a faithful partner in our efforts to ensure that all residents of the District of Columbia have a place to call home.

We thank the Foundations, Law Firms and Organizations who partner with the Legal Clinic. It is with their support that we are able to continue to stand with our clients.

$50,000 or greater

  • DC Bar Foundation
  • Jones Day Foundation
  • Public Welfare Foundation

$25,000 or greater

  • Abell Foundation
  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Arnold & Porter
  • Covington & Burling
  • Crowell & Moring
  • Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation
  • Moriah Fund
  • Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation
  • Oakwood Foundation

$15,000 – $24,999

  • GULC Home Court Committee
  • Goodwin Procter
  • Rapoport Family Foundation
  • Share Fund
  • Sidley Austin
  • Steptoe & Johnson
  • WilmerHale

$10,000 – $14,999

  • BuckleySandler
  • Davis Wright Tremaine
  • DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary
  • Gilbert
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Stein, Sperling, Bennett, De Jong, Driscoll & Greenfeig
  • Sterne Kessler Goldstein Fox

$5,000 – $9,999

  • Arent Fox
  • Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
  • Cozen O’Connor
  • Dechert
  • Dr. Cyrus Katzen Foundation
  • George Clarence and Dorothy Shaffer Charitable Foundation
  • Greysteel Company
  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Mayer Brown
  • McDermott, Will & Emery
  • Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
  • Williams & Connolly
  • World Bank Community Connections Fund

$2,500 – $4,999

  • Chadbourne & Parke
  • Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll
  • David S. Stone Foundation
  • Dentons
  • Dow Lohnes
  • Kaye Scholer
  • King & Spalding
  • Klein Hornig
  • Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
  • McKenna Long & Aldridge
  • Miller & Chevalier
  • Planet Depos
  • Reed Smith
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  • Thompson Hine
  • Troutman Sanders
  • White & Case

$1,000 – $2,499

  • Bench Trail Fund
  • Bryan Cave
  • Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
  • Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca
  • Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell
  • Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
  • Gray Plant Mooty
  • Hollingsworth
  • Lewis Baach
  • St. John’s Church, Norwood Parish
  • Washington Hebrew Congregation
  • Wiley Rein
  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher
  • Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice
  • Zuckerman Spaeder


  • Employee Charity Organization (ECHO) of Northrop Grumman
  • Gimmel, Weiman, Ersek, Blomberg & Lewis
  • Goldstein & Russell
  • Grossberg, Yochelson, Fox & Beyda
  • Hughes Hubbard & Reed
  • IE Discovery
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Law Offices of Andrea C. Ferster
  • Microsoft Matching Gifts Program
  • Reno & Cavanaugh

Current Openings

Posted: February 14, 2018 Legal Assistance Project Attorney