We are not quite two weeks into January, and already 2018 has proven to be a year of extremes. Last week in the nation’s capital, our thermostats registered a frosty 6 degrees (take it down to -7 counting wind chill!), yet as we pen this blog, we’re at a balmy 63. DC claims one of the highest per capita rates of millionaires in the US…but also of residents experiencing homelessness. High income earners have the luxury of looking forward to new tax provisions, while our low-income neighbors wait in fear of an already threadbare social safety net being slashed even further. Cranes dot the horizon raising high-end condos in desirable neighborhoods, while our clients struggle to find safe, dignified housing in the midst of the District’s affordable housing crisis.
The District of Columbia has long been a community of such extremes. For more than thirty years, though, the Legal Clinic has worked to bring some balance to the District that we call home. DC has one of the highest rates of lawyers per capita in the country, and we take full advantage of that by working with volunteer attorneys from law firms, the federal government, associations and elsewhere to bring justice to our clients. In the year ahead, our staff and our network of pro bono lawyers will continue to serve clients at our six (soon to be seven!) community intake sites. We will advocate for policies and budgets that are in line with our vision of a more just DC, and we will support low income community members in bringing their voices and their priorities into the public discourse that impacts their lives. We will train shelter residents on their rights in various government programs, and we will train law enforcement officials on the rights of those residents who live on the streets of DC. We will help low income tenants fight against the tides of gentrification that treat existing communities as disposable, and threaten to sweep them out of their homes…and even out of the District of Columbia.
And we will do all of this because of you. Without the companionship of our clients, our advocacy partners, our volunteers and our donors, we could not move forward on this journey towards a more just DC. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you, we will push back on the extremes. In the year ahead, we will do our very best to level the playing fields and to bridge the divides, so that before too many more calendar pages turn, all DC residents may have a safe and affordable place to call home.
May 2018 bring to you and those you love a great bounty of justice and joy.