Photo of Charlie Zenker

Charlie Zenker

  • Hosted by Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Housing Justice Program
  • Service location Fairfax, Virginia
  • Issue area Housing - Affordable Housing/Microfinance, Housing/Eviction
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Housing Justice Program

The Project

Charlie’s Fellowship provided community outreach and legal services to promote housing justice in Northern Virginia. This project partnered with the community in know-your-rights trainings, outreach events, and direct legal services to make legal information and resources more accessible. Through equitable partnerships with community members, Charlie strived to create a reality in Northern Virginia where housing is affordable, accessible, safe, and enjoyable for all tenants.

Housing inequities persist across the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these inequities. Tenants, particularly those who are low-income, people of color, and/or immigrants, often face a combination of high rents, low wages, and housing discrimination, which can trap people in a cycle of poverty and marginalization. It is also common for people to have difficulty accessing or enjoying affordable housing due to discrimination based on race, national origin, immigration status, ability, and other factors. These issues often compound when they encounter the court system, where legal representation is uncommon, legal information is inaccessible, and discrimination is rampant.

Charlie believes that reliable access to enjoyable and affordable housing is a foundational human right. Collaborative community work towards accessible housing is vitally important, especially in Northern Virginia, where the cost of living is soaring and numerous housing inequities persist. Charlie developed more community partnerships to increase the impact of this Fellowship.

Fellowship Highlights

Charlie addressed house inequities in Northern Virginia through outreach and legal services. This outreach focused on know-your-rights presentations, educational sessions about housing law, and collaborative activities that partnered with community members to increase their comfort navigating and utilizing housing law. These community-based outreach projects created protections against evictions for unpaid rent and provided guidance to resolve conditions-based issues, access mortgage relief, make fair housing complaints, and other housing topics. Part of this Fellowship also focused on courthouse outreach to provide legal intakes and general legal information before court hearings. Charlie provided litigation and legal administrative support on housing cases.


Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

Access to enjoyable and affordable housing should be the floor, not the ceiling."

Charlie Zenker /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Housing Justice Program

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