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Bread for the City Working with Amazon to Expand Housing Justice

Bread for the City, a direct services agency in Washington, DC, that serves over 32,000 DC residents living on low incomes, has received $750,000 in immediate support of its Legal Clinic’s housing law efforts. Bread for the City’s attorneys work to increase access to affordable and stable housing for residents of Washington, DC in the face of redevelopment, displacement, and discrimination. They prevent or delay eviction, prevent termination from critically-needed subsidy programs, and represent tenants and tenant associations.

The DC City Council passed a series of emergency bills to halt the eviction process in the District during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Evictions are on hold for the duration of the public health emergency – which has currently been declared through December 31, 2020. New eviction cases cannot be filed in court until 60 days later. However, this has not stopped landlords from engaging in illegal harassment and out-of-court evictions during the pandemic. Once the eviction moratorium comes to an end, the need for additional legal services across the District is evident.

Bread for the City and other legal service providers are also working against racial disparities within eviction patterns in the District. A newly-released study from Georgetown University found that approximately 60% of eviction cases filings and evictions themselves take place east of the river in Wards 7 and 8, despite only 25% of rental units in Washington, DC being located there. Both of these wards have high concentrations of Black residents – 90% overall. This study found a strong correlation between share of Black residents and eviction filing rate. Bread for the City’s new housing attorneys, funded through this gift from Amazon, will focus their work out of the agency’s Southeast Center.

“Even when we are not in the middle of a public health emergency, we know the impact on those facing eviction is devastating, not just for individuals and families, but also for communities,” says Bread for the City Legal Clinic Director, Su Sie Ju. “The ability to offset the imbalance in legal representation between landlords and tenants through additional staffing for our housing law clinic will enable Bread for the City to take on even more cases in service of those seeking housing justice in the District during this challenging time.”

This donation is part of Amazon’s $3 million investment to four different organizations across the Washington, D.C. metro area including Bread for the City’s Legal Clinic, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Virginia Poverty Law Center, and Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, all supporting local residents facing evictions due to challenges caused by COVID-19.

Bread for the City has seen an increased need for its services across all of its departments, including legal services, health care, food, and social services and programs. Their food pantry – already the largest in DC – transitioned to a large-scale delivery operation and its Medical Center provides barrier-free, walk-up COVID-19 testing and free flu shots twice a week out of its Shaw location. Bread for the City also manages a new, state-of-the-art center in Southeast, DC, opened this September. Bread for the City also received support from Amazon for this important capital investment in Southeast DC – bringing Amazon’s total cash donations to the agency to $1,000,000.

Bread for the City’s Legal Clinic provides legal advice and representation to those living on low incomes in Washington, D.C. within the areas of housing, family, immigration, and public benefits law. In addition to seeing clients in one of Bread for the City’s two centers, Legal Clinic staff maintains two court-based offices, enabling attorneys to meet clients where they are and provide legal assistance at a critical moment in their lives.

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