Legal Aid fights for fairness against lead poisoning, wrongful eviction

April 1, 2016 - 12:46 pm
Civil legal aid advocates use legal expertise to fight for fairness when civil legal issues threaten families' and individuals' homes, health and livelihoods. In March the media spotlight shone on several examples where access to justice is critical.

Blame HUD for America’s Lead Epidemic, an op-ed authored by Loyola University Chicago School of Law Professor Emily Benfer, was published in The New York Times in early March. This was a first for Emily, and for Voices as well (it was our first op-ed placement in the Times). This is a perfect example of how the JusticeVoices network works. Two months ago we didn’t know Emily; but when Flint, Michigan’s water crisis became a national story, we asked the JusticeVoices network about civil legal aid’s work on lead poisoning, and two members suggested that we reach out to her. She had an interesting and timely angle on the issue. Voices staff worked with her to craft the piece. Our media consultants at BerlinRosen pitched it. The rest, as they say, is history. We were very pleased with the result.

Another lead-poisoning piece featuring legal aid ran the next week when Bryce Covert followed up with in-depth coverage for ThinkProgress: We Know How To Stop The Epidemic Of Lead Poisoning. So Why Aren’t We?

Our other two big hits for March can also be attributed to responsive JusticeVoices network members.

This week legal aid was included in Staving Off Eviction, an excellent series by NPR’s Pam Fessler on the challenges facing low-income renters. The final segment, In A High-Rent World, Affordable And Safe Housing Is Hard To Come By, features Public Justice Center attorney Zafar Shah, author of Justice Diverted, a comprehensive report on Baltimore’s rent court.

Also this week, the Associated Press published States look to provide lawyers for the poor in civil cases, which spotlights the critical role of civil legal aid. The story ran in over 200 outlets, including the Washington Post, and features two client stories. JusticeVoices network members contributed several client stories that helped to shape the piece. (Special thanks goes to John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, who referred the reporter to Voices for help with finding client stories.)

Seeing the JusticeVoices network members in action, and generating news coverage that spotlights your work, is what makes us high-five each other here at the Voices office. And, it reminds us that the network’s discussion list is our lifeline to the ideas and information that reporters need. We are excited to share some recent media hits made possible by the JusticeVoices network.

Be a part of JusticeVoices. Sign up for the discussion list here.

Geographic coverage: NATIONAL
Tags: Housing: Eviction, Lead Poisoning