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Benjamin Apt

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Justice Center
  • Sponsored by Housing Justice Program
  • Service location Falls Church, Virginia
  • Law school Boston University School of Law
  • Issue area Housing/Eviction
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Housing Justice Program

The Project

Ben’s project comprises several elements, including direct litigation on behalf of clients facing eviction, know-your-rights presentations, and community organizing to raise awareness of the economic vulnerabilities that very low-income tenants, many of whom are immigrants, face. This Fellowship aims to foster the growth of affordable housing programs for low-income residents in Northern Virginia through research, representation, and advocacy.

The constituency that Legal Aid Justice Center serves in Falls Church typically has very low incomes (40%/AMI or below), and many clients face language barriers. Clients are often fearful of exposure to immigration authorities and are unaware that they can pursue their rights as residential tenants regardless of their immigrant status. Evictions of low-income tenants are rising, which is mainly due to the ascension of rental prices in the region. The arrival of Amazon’s and Boeing’s new major office complexes in Falls Church leads this market alteration.

As a young child, Ben’s parents engaged in fair housing efforts in their community, and even at a young age, Ben understood the nature and reasons for their volunteer work in this area. Their efforts made a lasting impression on Ben that remains present in this project. Ben has also long been concerned about tendencies to treat immigrants as second-class humans. This Fellowship allows Ben to combine these issues and work to mitigate their effects on communities in Virginia.

Fellowship Plans

Ben will provide legal advice and representation to low-income tenants who are facing eviction notices and extremely poor housing conditions. Additionally, Ben will work with tenant groups to encourage local politicians to expand rental stock for low-income families and institute local legal protections (such as continuing some of the eviction protections that existed during the Virginia Rental Relief Program responding to COVID-19).

Media

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