The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Inc.

aka "The Legal Clinic" and/or "WLCH"   |   Washington, DC   |  www.legalclinic.org

Mission

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.

Ruling year info

1988

Executive Director

Ms. Patricia Mullahy Fugere

Main address

1200 U Street, NW 3rd Floor

Washington, DC 20009 USA

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EIN

52-1545522

NTEE code info

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (P01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Legal Assistance Project (LAP)

Through LAP, our attorneys and network of over 250 volunteer lawyers and paralegals assist clients on a broad range of civil legal issues. Volunteers see clients at our six community sites, located at day centers, dining programs, and a shelter-based medical clinic, providing 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.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Economically disadvantaged people

Through AHI the Legal Clinic systematically address the needs of D.C. residents most deeply impacted by poverty and the shortage of affordable housing. The goal of the Initiative is to preserve and expand the supply of affordable housing in the District of Columbia through litigation, systemic advocacy, and public education.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

The Legal Clinic advocates in various fora to assure that the District of Columbia's homeless services system adequately meets the need of its intended beneficiaries. This includes advocacy around the District's hypothermia shelter and services, as well as advocacy around the shelter system's capacity and funding.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Economically disadvantaged people

Individual representation and broader advocacy efforts on behalf of families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness, including linking families to supportive and social services

Population(s) Served
Families
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

a. Enhance Access to Justice
Goals: 1) Break down barriers to access to justice by making legal services easily accessible to homeless clients; 2) provide legal representation that clients need to challenge: shelter denials and expulsions; adverse decisions regarding disability benefits; disability discrimination; terminations of public assistance and more.

b. Improve Homeless Services We expect that our work in the homeless family arena will continue to have several focal points: the intake process for families; year round access to shelter; hypothermia shelter; expanding exit strategies beyond Rapid Rehousing; and the potential closure of shelters. With a new administration and some new councilmembers coming into office in early 2015, we will also work to educate these officials about the needs of our clients.
i. Intake: Goals: 1) Families are treated lawfully and offered the services they need when they apply for shelter; 2) New coordinated entry project meets the needs of single adults and connects them to proper supports.
ii. Year-round Access to Shelter: Goal: Families will get access to shelter when they need it, not only when whether is freezing.
iii. Hypothermia Shelter: Goals: 1) The Winter Plan will be realistic and will identify adequate resources; 2) The system will operate lawfully; 2) there will be adequate capacity to meet the need.
iv. Exit Strategies: Goal: Assure that families who leave shelter are securing stable placements, not simply short-term stop gaps that might ultimately put them in greater harm's way.
v. Possible Shelter Closures: Goal: Assure that no shelter is closed down without sufficient new shelter and housing available to meet the needs of residents.

c. Prevent Homelessness by preserving and expanding Affordable Housing
Goal: Help low-income tenants remain secure in their housing.

d. Right to Housing
Goals: 1) incorporate elements of international human right to housing into local housing advocacy efforts; 2) strengthen capacity of the legal services community by expanded use of pro bono counsel in such efforts.

e. End Criminalization of Homelessness
Goal: Improve interactions between law enforcement and people who are homeless, by enhancing officers' knowledge of issues and the resources available to assist homeless clients.

f. Community Legal Needs Assessment
Goals: 1) Provide opportunity for low income residents to I.D. the challenges they face, both the legal problems they face individually and the broader challenges faced by their communities (e.g. lack of access to transportation; food desert; environmental hazards; unaffordable housing; lack of employment opportunities); 2) as a legal services community, assess how we are responding to the needs as our client community articulates them.

g. Client Voice
Goals: 1) Educate clients about their rights; 2) Help clients understand the DC government processes and how to be an advocate within those processes

a. Enhance Access to Justice
Strategy: Serve individual clients through both our in-house attorneys and volunteers, who staff 7 community intake sites on a weekly basis.

b. Improve Homeless Services
i. Intake: Strategy - Monitor the centralized intake process for family shelter, to assure that families are treated lawfully and are not “diverted" from shelter to potentially unsafe or unlawful situations.
ii. Year-round Access to Shelter- Strategy: Advocate with mayor and DC Council
iii. Hypothermia Shelter - Strategy: Participate in development of Winter Plan; monitor DC's compliance with law and analyze need vs. capacity of shelter during winter months; conduct outreach at family shelter intake to inform families of their rights; represent families whose rights are violated.
iv. Exit Strategies - Strategy: Advocate for additional permanent affordable resources for families presently in shelter; monitor use of the LRSP vouchers to assure that they used in a timely way, etc.
v. Possible Shelter Closures - Strategy: Continue participation in task force on future of Federal City Shelter; work with families at the DC General Family Shelter to make sure that their views and needs are factored in to the conversations about the future of that shelter; monitor other shelters that are near impending development and assess whether and what sort of action might be needed to protect residents.

c. Prevent Homelessness by preserving and expanding Affordable Housing
Strategy: Represent tenant associations fighting to maintain their buildings as affordable; advocate for housing policies that meet the needs of clients; work for reform and improvement in housing agency operations.

d. Right to Housing
Strategy: Incorporate International Human Right to Housing principles into ongoing advocacy; engage more pro bono lawyers in housing advocacy; collaborate with other legal service and advocacy organizations.

e. End Criminalization of Homelessness
Strategy: Continue “Homelessness 101" training of law enforcement officers.

f. Community Legal Needs Assessment
Strategy: Participate in ongoing collaborative effort to conduct surveys of low-income DC residents about their legal needs. Participate in data analysis. Engage in planning based on survey results.

g. Client Voice:
Strategy: Conduct "know your rights" trainings in community settings (focusing on issues such as disability rights; rights and responsibilities under the Homeless Services Reform Act; and tenants' rights and responsibilities in permanent supportive housing). Support clients and other shelter residents and community members in their advocacy efforts, e.g. through holding advocacy trainings and testimony prep workshops.

The Legal Clinic has a highly skilled and long tenured staff that is respected throughout the local legal services and pro bono community. Our most senior attorneys not only mentor our own network of 350+ volunteers, but they are looked to for strategic guidance and support by attorneys throughout the community, as well. Our volunteer network allows us to expand our capacity to reach broadly and deeply into the community, to be present to our clients when they need us most. Last year, our volunteers contributed more than $4.4 million in donated legal services.

The work of our staff members has been recognized and honored by a wide range of organizations. Executive Director Patricia Mullahy Fugere has been honored by the DC Bar with its William J. Brennan, Jr. Award for her service in the public interest; by the Legal Aid Society of DC as a Servant of Justice; by the DC Bar Foundation with its Jerrold Scoutt Prize; by the Gray Panthers of Metro Washington with its Geraldine Brittain Award; and the District Alliance for Safe Housing with its Keystone Award for Leadership in the Development of Safe Housing for Victims of Domestic Violence. Patty holds honorary degrees from the Georgetown University Law Center and Kings College.

Staff Attorney Scott McNeilly was honored by the DC Bar Foundation in 2004 with the Jerrold Scoutt Prize, recognizing his outstanding work on behalf of our clients.

Staff Attorney Marta Beresin was honored in 2013 by SHARC (Shelter, Housing and Respectful Change) for her “deep commitment to and outstanding legal support for Washington DC's homeless." Along with Legal Clinic attorney Amber W. Harding, Marta also received the Professional Women In Advocacy 2013 Award for Excellence in a State Advocacy Campaign.

In 2007, Staff Attorney Amber Harding received the Citizen Advocate award from the DC Center for Independent Living. In 2011, her work on improving the accessibility of emergency shelters was cited as a “particularly noteworthy" example of a successful reform campaign by the Shriver Center's Federal Practice Manual for Legal Aid Attorneys. Amber recently was honored by SHARC (Shelter, Housing and Respectful Change) for her “deep commitment to and outstanding legal support for Washington DC's homeless." Along with Legal Clinic attorney Marta Beresin, Amber also received the Professional Women In Advocacy 2013 Award for Excellence in a State Advocacy Campaign.

Financials

The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 12/17/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. John Jacob

Akin Gump

James Rocap

Steptoe & Johnson

Susan Hoffman

Crowell & Moring

John Jacob

Akin Gump

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes