Join us on March 22nd for Home Court 30, pitting the Hill’s Angels from Capitol Hill against Georgetown Law’s Hoya Lawyas, to benefit the Legal Clinic’s work to forge a more just and inclusive DC.
Yesterday, the DC Council, in its final legislative meeting of this session, passed several bills that will make it easier for low-income residents to obtain and maintain employment and housing. While much of the attention on the Council and in the press was, deservedly, on a game-changing paid family and medical leave act, a bill passed unanimously that could be a game changer for many DC residents seeking housing: the Fair Criminal Record Screening Act for Housing (FCRSAH).
Since 1990, people experiencing homelessness, advocates, activists, and other community members have used the Winter Solstice – the darkest day of the year – to celebrate the lives and mourn the passing of those who died homeless during the year. This year 51 people were mourned.
The Bowser Administration has proposed amendments to the Homeless Services Reform Act that would impose upon homeless families in DC stricter standards for proving their residency and eligibility for live-saving shelter. We are concerned that the proposal will impose barriers that could prevent DC’s most vulnerable families from accessing desperately needed shelter. Set out below is a letter to the DC Council from the Legal Clinic and a number of our colleagues in the provider and advocacy community, urging the Council to provide an adequate opportunity for community input about what the impact of these changes will be. We hope you’ll join us in calling on the Council not to move the legislation forward on an emergency basis. Contact information for your councilmembers can be found here. November 30, 2016 Dear Councilmembers, Last month, Mayor Bowser introduced the HSRA Modernization Act of 2016, a bill that makes significant changes to the primary law governing our homeless services systems. We write as a group of concerned service providers and advocates to urge you to oppose the introduction of this measure as emergency legislation this session. We believe that we share goals with the Administration of 1) making sure that every person who has no safe place to sleep at night is served, no matter the weather; 2) protecting the legal and human rights of people experiencing homelessness; and 3) having a system that efficiently and effectively meets the needs of such people. We believe, however that this Bill, in its current form, does not meet these intended goals. Additionally, because a hearing has not yet been scheduled, affected community members have not yet had an opportunity to offer their feedback on ways to improve the legislation. We believe it would be premature and risk harming extremely vulnerable DC residents to pass this Bill as emergency, particularly right as hypothermia season begins. As a group, we have been attempting to work with DHS on this legislation for several months, including having two meetings with them and providing a letter highlighting some specific concerns, questions, and alternative suggestions to meet their goals. We only learned this week that Mayor Bowser is advocating for this as emergency legislation in spite of assurances from DHS that this Bill would have a hearing and that the agency would work with us to redraft parts of the Bill. We have requested information from DHS, some of which was provided and some of which was not, to better understand why they believe all of these provisions are necessary. We have also made recommendations for how DHS can accomplish its goals in the short term while we are in the process of determining if legislation is in fact...
The Legal Clinic seeks to hire an attorney to join our efforts to bring justice to DC residents who are homeless or at risk or becoming so. Please see the announcement here and circulate to excellent candidates. Many thanks!