Olivia Jerjian

  • Hosted by AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly
  • Sponsored by KPMG LLP, The Sidley Austin Foundation
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Georgetown University Law Center
  • Issue area Elder Abuse
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Advocate for elderly tenants with subsidized housing vouchers living in Washington, DC who are at risk of eviction and homelessness due to their landlords’ failure to comply with housing standards and the potential termination of their voucher.

Seniors in Washington, DC are increasingly at risk of becoming homeless. The Housing Choice Voucher Program makes housing affordable for low-income individuals. It caps rent at 30 percent of the tenant’s income, and the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) provides the landlord a subsidy for the remaining rent. However, DCHA terminates its subsidy if the landlord fails to maintain the property. Tenants are then forced to move out or pay market rent with the risk of being evicted. Tenants with vouchers also face voucher discrimination in the District, as many landlords refuse to lease their properties to individuals with vouchers. Through early intervention, this project will work to prevent the unnecessary displacement of and the discrimination against low-income seniors who have housing vouchers.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Olivia has:

  • Assisted nearly 200 seniors with vouchers in remaining housed and preserving their vouchers
    Established an early referral pipeline between DCHA and LCE for at-risk seniors with vouchers
    Submitted testimony to DC Council at DCHA’s oversight hearings in 2017 and 2018
  • What’s NextCreated a training manual for the project

Next Steps

Now that the fellowship is complete, Olivia plans to:

  • Complete a clerkship at the U.S. District Court of Connecticut
  • Return to the District’s direct legal services community to continue advocating for individuals’ access to housing

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