LaFonda Page

The Project

LaFonda will serve low-income individuals residing in the Greater Richmond Region of Virginia who are currently, or at risk of, experiencing housing instability and involuntary displacement, particularly due to eviction.

Housing stability is an endemic issue across Virginia and particularly in Richmond. Richmond has the second highest eviction rate in the country, which is attributable to landlord-tenant laws that provide tenants with relatively few rights when facing eviction, the lack of knowledge by tenants of those few rights, and a lack of access to legal resources to fight evictions. The existing stock of affordable housing in the greater Richmond area is crumbling and/or expiring, and affordable housing tenants are routinely discriminated against on the basis of race, income, immigration status, and criminal records.

Fellowship Highlights

As a Community Organizer in the Housing Justice Program, LaFonda helps address the complex underlying problems of the eviction crisis in Richmond. She works hard to connect public housing residents with vital legal and social services, as well as the tools they need to advocate effectively for access to safe and stable housing. LaFonda helps to organize community events, supports tenants in preparing and submitting maintenance requests, and builds relationships with community leaders.

Media

In the Spotlight: Housing Justice Program Community Organizer LaFonda Page on Helping Tenants Assert Their Rights

Fighting for Fair Housing Practices in Richmond, Virginia

The Project

Omari will serve low-income individuals residing in the Greater Richmond Region of Virginia who are currently, or at risk of, experiencing housing instability and involuntary displacement, particularly due to eviction.

Housing stability is an endemic issue across Virginia and particularly in Richmond. Richmond has the second highest eviction rate in the country, which is attributable to landlord-tenant laws that provide tenants with relatively few rights when facing eviction, the lack of knowledge by tenants of those few rights, and a lack of access to legal resources to fight evictions. The existing stock of affordable housing in the greater Richmond area is crumbling and/or expiring, and affordable housing tenants are routinely discriminated against on the basis of race, income, immigration status, and criminal records.

Fellowship Highlights 

As a Community Organizer in the Housing Justice Program, Omari helps to address the complex underlying problems of the eviction crisis in Richmond. At his host organization, the Legal Aid Justice Center, he helps to bridge the service gap between Housing Justice Program Fellows and tenants, particularly those unfamiliar with accessing legal services. Omari identifies and engages with tenants facing eviction, organizes community events, and builds capacity of tenants and residents to organize and advocate for themselves. Additionally, Omari contributes to policy change at the local and state level. His community work facilitates opportunities for tenants’ voices and experiences to be heard.

Media

Pandemic Lawyering: A Year in Review

Virginia Senate Passes Bill To Ensure Public Housing Residents Are Given Timely Notice Of Demolition, Redevelopment Plans

'We're technically homeless': the eviction epidemic plaguing the US

Standing Up for Tenants, Close to Home

How Richmond’s mayoral candidates are addressing the future of public housing.

Richmond Housing Authority’s Practices Under Scrutiny, ‘That Is Not Transparency’

Eviction attempt highlights disconnect between RRHA and residents

RHA puts hold on all public housing evictions through December

In 5 weeks, RRHA doubles number of eviction lawsuits sent to tenants

The (Il)legality of Richmond's Housing Crisis

RRHA Must Resubmit Agency Plans To Federal Government, Following Rejection

Eviction City

Through my work, I’ve learned that a large number of my community members did not know their rights and did not have access to legal representation. Many outside attorneys struggle to access the community, and I knew I could help.

Omari Al-Qadaffi /
2019 Equal Justice Works Community Organizer

The Project

In Ohio, criminal records are used to deny individuals employment opportunities as well as safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, many survivors of human trafficking accrue substantial criminal records as a consequence of trafficking. Gabriel’s mission is to help these victims navigate the criminal legal system and eliminate legal barriers that have been placed upon them.

As an attorney with labor and employment experience, Gabriel has seen first-hand how criminal records can impact an individual’s effort to gain stable, rewarding employment. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Gabriel offered legal assistance and education to help survivors of human trafficking remove criminal-records-based barriers to employment and housing, utilizing Ohio’s Safe Harbor expungement laws.

I’m excited and thankful to Equal Justice Works for the opportunity to give back and help reshape our community for the better. I went to law school with the hope of becoming the type of attorney that works towards the goals I am striving to accomplish today!

Gabriel Fletcher /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

The scope of the need for legal services to survivors of campus sexual assault in Arkansas is vast. With two large universities and 16 community colleges in the service area, statistics (but not actual reporting numbers) tell us that thousands of young people in Arkansas have been victimized while attending one of the colleges. Unlike many urban areas, Arkansas does not have a robust network of nonprofit legal centers. Indeed, there are currently no organizations with a focus on providing legal representation to survivors of sexual assault, let alone one focusing on campus sexual assault. This Fellowship sought to fill that gap and initiate a concerted effort to provide comprehensive legal services to survivors. 

Candice’s Fellowship took a two-prong approach to tackle the problem of campus rape and sexual assault. First, Candice built relationships with and provided educational/training opportunities to university students, faculty, and staff; private attorneys; law enforcement agencies; community-based service providers; pro bono attorneys; and other community stakeholders. Second, she provided comprehensive, culturally-competent, trauma-informed legal services to survivors of campus sexual assault. 

As a former student survivor of sexual assault, Candice is personally motivated to ensure that students receive critical legal services to aid in their pursuit of justice. 

The Project

There is a serious lack of appropriate, safe, affordable housing across the nation and there are few places other than Richmond where that’s felt more keenly. With an eviction rate among the highest in the country, there’s a desperate need for systemic advocacy and community outreach to help stymie the flood of evictions along with the profound direct and collateral consequence they bring. Even more problematically, there is an imbalance in access to the courts: the vast majority of tenants are unrepresented while the majority of landlords have lawyers.

Palmer will provide legal advice directly to low-income tenants facing eviction or other adverse housing actions. He will work to educate and reach out to residents in the Richmond area to help ensure they know their rights, and will identify at least one systemic housing issue that is of concern to tenants in the Richmond area that could be addressed through impact litigation and/or an advocacy campaign. Palmer will collaborate with the other local organizations to address systemic housing issues.

Until you're here on a day to day basis, you don't realize the magnitude of the eviction crisis. Before the Housing Justice Program, there were no full-time housing attorneys. Now, we have the opportunity to be proactive, not just reactive.

Palmer Heenan /
2019 Fellow in the Housing Justice Program

Media

Pandemic Lawyering: A Year in Review

Evictions continue in Virginia despite CDC order extension

Millions still available for people who can't make rent

Trying to enjoy the holidays with eviction looming in the new year

Housing Justice Program Scores Big Win for Families Facing Eviction

Tenants, attorneys take issue with housing program run by Richmond nonprofit

Richmond Judge Dismisses 31 RRHA Eviction Cases

They don’t have to move’: Richmond evictions halted during judicial emergency

Fighting the Eviction Crisis in the Greater Richmond Region

Unable to evict, some landlords accuse tenants of abandoning homes they’re still living in

As COVID-19 Safeguards End, Eviction Wave Begins

‘It’s going to be a crisis’

Confusion over CARES Act protections hang over Henrico Civil Court eviction proceedings

Lawyer: Here's what to tell a judge to help avoid eviction during COVID-19 pandemic

Even with federal moratorium, thousands still face eviction in Richmond

Area attorneys train volunteer lawyers in tenant's rights, eviction law

How a new CDC measure could help those at risk of losing their home

The (Il)legality of Richmond's Housing Crisis

Landlords ask Supreme Court of Virginia to make eviction proceedings easier

LMU Law Review to Host Virtual Symposium "Disaster Lawyering in the Age of COVID"

For Black Families, Evictions Are Still At A Crisis Point — Despite Moratorium

Black Renters Face A Disproportionate Amount Of Evictions Because Of Pandemic

In Richmond, VA, eviction burden weighs heavier on Black and Brown residents

The Project

Kateland’s project seeks to address the eviction crisis in Richmond, Virginia, as well as in surrounding areas. Richmond, Virginia has the second highest eviction rate for large cities in the country. Petersburg, Virginia has the second highest eviction rate for mid-size cities in the country, and Hopewell, Virginia has the fourth highest eviction rate for mid-sized cities. Part of the issue surrounding eviction is that tenants oftentimes are not present in court or do not have a lawyer with them at court. Any person who rents a place to live can be affected by this issue, but it disproportionately affects people of lower income and minorities.

Kateland plans to tackle the eviction crisis in a multifaceted way. The largest part of her focus will be direct representation of clients with housing law issues in court. Another part of her focus will be working with community organizers to help educate the public, with a specific eye towards those more often affected by the crisis. A final part of her focus will be working with all the groups involved in the project to inform them of areas where the current law fails to protect tenants.

Kateland’s interest in housing began in her childhood, when she saw a mother and multiple children crammed into a small place because anything larger was outside the mother’s grasp. As an adult, Kateland learned about how housing instability can affect someone’s health and income, among other things. When she learned that her beloved community’s eviction rate was so high, she knew she had to help.

Media

Building a Better Future Together

Six Things Every Public Interest Lawyer Should Know About Housing Work

Landlords Can’t Evict Their Tenants, So They're Shutting Off Utilities and Threatening Them Instead

I wanted to start my career strong—I wanted to work in an area of law that I would stay in, not something that I would practice for a year and then quickly switch to something else. That's why I applied for the Housing Justice Program.

Kateland Alan Woodcock /
2019 Fellow in the Housing Justice Program

The Project

Among large U.S. cities, Richmond has the 2nd highest eviction rate in the country at 11.44%. A total of 30.9% of all Richmond renters receive a notice of eviction in any given year. Richmond’s history of segregation, discrimination and racism continues to reverberate today, and high eviction rates are disproportionately found in minority communities, with more than 60% of all majority African American tracts facing eviction rates greater than 10%. Low-income individuals facing eviction or poor housing conditions are at a point of severe vulnerability, and access to adequate legal representation is an essential component to ensuring that their rights are not ignored.

Louisa will represent tenants in court in eviction proceedings with an eye towards impact solutions. She will advocate for local policy change through public comment and legislative work groups. She will collaborate with community groups to provide legal advice and trainings that empower low-income tenants to advocate for their rights.

Before law school, Louisa volunteered at an emergency youth homeless shelter where she saw the effects of housing instability firsthand. She quickly became involved in legal aid work during law school and got experience representing clients on a broad range of topics: public benefits, education, juvenile justice, immigration, and housing. She saw how her clients’ problems were interrelated, with housing being a baseline need that had to be addressed before resolving other issues.

Media

Teaming Up to Address the Housing Crisis in Richmond

Six Things Every Public Interest Lawyer Should Know About Housing Work

Standing Up for Tenants, Close to Home

New policies to help RRHA tenants

I think evictions are one of the biggest issues that low-income clients are facing where they need a lawyer and they're highly underrepresented.

Louisa Rich /
2019 Fellow in the Housing Justice Program

The Project

Housing stability is an endemic issues across Virginia and particularly in Richmond. Richmond has the second highest eviction rates in the country, which is attributable to landlord-tenant laws that provide tenants with relatively few rights when facing eviction, the lack of knowledge by tenants of those few right, and a lack of access to legal resources to fight evictions. The existing stock of affordable housing in the greater Richmond area is crumbling and/or expiring, and affordable housing tenants are routinely discriminated against on the basis of race, income, immigration status, and criminal records.

Using a community lawyering model, Laura will work with other Fellows and organizers to build networks within high eviction neighborhoods in the Greater Richmond area to assess the greatest housing needs, provide know your rights trainings, and refer clients to partner organizations for emergency legal assistance. In consultation with effected communities, Laura will develop and institute impact litigation to bring about systemic housing reform. Laura will also engage in housing policy advocacy to demand better state and local policies in how landlords bring eviction proceedings, appropriation of funds for public housing, and more.

Media

Hana Hausnerova and Laura Dobbs column: What the end of Virginia’s eviction moratorium means for tenants

The Way Forward: Investing in Legal Representation for Tenants at Risk of Losing Their Home

Pandemic Lawyering: A Year in Review

The Justice Report: This one is about Evictions

The Project

Central Virginia is in the midst of a housing crisis. Public housing is being demolished and disappearing while the eviction rates in major cities, (Richmond, Petersburg) lead the nation. The project seeks to address the legal need of the residents by offering legal representation and education. It also seeks to work with legislatures to change and enact laws to help alleviate the meteoric eviction rates.

Daryl plans to address these issues by representing residents in housing matters before the Court, as well as engaging in a wide variety of outreach and education activities including conducting “Tenant’s Assertion” seminars for tenants in public, assisted, and tax credit housing developments in the Greater Richmond area;  engaging tenants in Tenant Town Halls for a more intensive look into tenant problems and desired solutions; and door-knocking in high eviction communities to get an understanding of the major concerns of residents.

Media

Collaborating Across the Nation, Fellows Team Up to Protect the Civil Legal Needs of the Underserved

Pandemic Lawyering: A Year in Review

Unable to evict, some landlords accuse tenants of abandoning homes they’re still living in

My main goal of my Fellowship has been to become a community lawyer. I want to be someone who hears what the residents are saying and brings those concerns to the table.

Daryl F. Hayott, Esq. /
2019 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

For the past 50 years, Legal Aid Chicago has provided people living in poverty in metropolitan Chicago with comprehensive free legal services to resolve non-criminal issues. Each year, Legal Aid Chicago’s more than 80 full-time attorneys and support staff help resolve civil legal problems, including consumer fraud, foreclosure, unfair evictions, domestic violence, and many others. Legal Aid Chicago’s work helps about 35,000 people annually. The Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group at Legal Aid Chicago represents clients in all types of immigration and employment matters, and the majority of work covers the entire state of Illinois. Through the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project IWR provides high quality civil legal services to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers across Illinois. In addition, IWR runs a state-wide program, the Trafficking Survivors Assistance Program (TSAP). 

Eduardo provided direct legal services to human trafficking survivors to address the range of civil legal issues that arise from the victimization. He worked with a variety of survivors from diverse backgrounds, including low-wage workers, immigrants, migrant farmworkers, short-term visa holders, citizens, non-citizens, and other individuals. 

Eduardo’s past experiences equipped him with the vital tools that are needed to be a zealous advocate for human rights. Prior to law school, Eduardo was a volunteer with City Year, Inc. (an AmeriCorps program) in Chicago, Illinois, dedicating two years to serve the underserved communities of ChicagoHe gained invaluable skills in fostering relationships with people of diverse backgrounds and service partners, planning and organizing, and being a part of a team and a leader. In addition, Eduardo also has his own personal story that ties him to the communities LAF serves. When he was still in his mother’s womb, his parents and two older sisters emigrated from Mexico to Rochelle, Illinois. He remembers that in the second grade his father required him to learn by memory his social security number. He has never forgotten it since, and he has never forgotten the importance of those 9 digits to him and what it means to many others. Eduardo is a firm believer that everyone is equal and that human rights are everyone’s rights.