Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 22

The District's median household income - which rose from $43,573 in
2004, when the Landlord Tenant Resource Center opened, to the current
$82,372 - runs parallel with the increasing cost of housing and other
living expenses. To afford to live in the nation's capital, one of the most
expensive cities in the country, a household must earn a minimum of
$5,550 monthly or $66,600 annually. A D.C. resident earning minimum
wage ($14 as of July 2019) will have to work at least 91 hours per week
to afford a place in the city.
Most of the resource center's customers reside in either Ward 7 or 8, the
two District wards with the lowest median household income, according
to the U.S. Census Bureau. Clearly there are also glaring racial disparities
involved in affordable housing. The NLIHC report noted that "black, Native
American, and Hispanic households are more likely than white households to be extremely low-income renters." Data from the Landlord
Tenant Resource Center's 2018-2019 fiscal year supports those findings:
86 percent of customers who answered the resource center's survey
identified as black or African American; 10 percent identified as Hispanic
or Latino, and 7.2 percent identified as white.
Affordable housing is becoming increasingly scarce for the city's most vulnerable populations, and the Landlord Tenant Resource Center serves as a
critical safety net for those who are in danger of losing their home and the
stability that comes with it. The devastating ripple effects of eviction often
include loss of possessions and employment, poor physical and mental
well-being, family separation, and disruptions in children's schooling.

"

22 WASHINGTON LAWYER

SCARED & CONFUSED
When D.C. residents find themselves in Landlord Tenant Court for the
first time, the experience is not only disorienting but also frightening
for many. There are multiple interruptions: People burst in and out of
the courtrooms and sometimes approach the bench to get information
from clerks, even during a hearing. Against this distracting and noisy
background, tenants strain to make sure they hear and respond
to their names during roll call - a must since not saying "present"
can result in a default judgment against them if only the landlord
responds.
Some pro se tenants carry loose documents to support their cases; others
come with small children or other family members. For tenants facing
eviction, standing in front of a judge who can decide their likelihood
of becoming homeless is understandably anxiety-inducing. General
confusion permeates the air as everyone tries to get their questions
answered: Are they in the right courtroom? Did they fill out all the
correct forms? Will they benefit from meeting with a court-appointed
mediator? Do they understand the agreement they entered into with
the landlord's attorney? Have they signed away critical legal rights?
More than 90 percent of tenants are unrepresented in Landlord Tenant
Court, and a lack of understanding of the legal process often puts them
in more jeopardy, according to Lee. "Many times, tenants sign consent
judgment praecipes (CJPs) without the advice of counsel because they

You need to make sure that each person you meet with feels like
they are being heard and understood. The most rewarding thing
for me is being able to help somebody, or at the very least give
them a sense of hope that they may be able to stay in their home
or have some additional time to find another place to live.
RIC MACCHIAROLI
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

*

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Going Above and Beyond feature
On Safer Ground feature
Casa Ruby Profile
Pro Bono Effect
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Going Above and Beyond feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - On Safer Ground feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Casa Ruby Profile
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 38
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover4
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