Author: pricelessmisc

In June, following the murder of George Floyd, we issued statements committing our organization to help fight the endemic and systemic racism that daily haunts the lives of African-Americans and other people of color in our country.

“Speeches and statements alone, although important, have proved inadequate,” we said. “Acts—actual deeds to dismantle systemic racism—are now the currency required to validate our words.”

Today, we join the nation in mourning the passing of a great man who dedicated his life to acting against racism, injustice and inequality of all types: John Lewis.

In an essay he wrote shortly before his death on July 17, Mr. Lewis spoke of the responsibility we all have to take action against injustice.

“When you see something that is not right, you must say something,” he wrote. “You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”

We share his words with you—our clients, our supporters, our friends—in the hope that they comfort, inspire, and motivate you to continue playing an active role in the struggle against injustice.

Read: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, by the Honorable John Lewis

Author: pricelessmisc

ELIZABETH CITY – In January, while Elizabeth City residents continued to cope with last year’s tragic death of Andrew Brown Jr., we opened an office here, a signal of our commitment to help provide justice to a community badly in need of it.

“This community has experienced turmoil,” said Reynauld Williams, senior managing attorney of our Ahoskie office, which serves Pasquotank and 10 other counties in northeastern North Carolina.

“Half of Elizabeth City residents and a third of Pasquotank County residents are African American,” he said. “Issues of police misconduct and racial injustice strike a deep and sensitive nerve here. Andrew Brown’s killing was a serious wound that is still healing.”

“City leaders invited us to open this office in hopes that the justice we provide to those impacted by poverty, racism – or both – can help with the healing process. Our presence here wouldn’t be possible without the support of Mayor Parker and the City Council, and two generous donations from anonymous donors.”

While Legal Aid has always served residents of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County—from our Ahoskie office, via our statewide Helpline and statewide projects, and from a prior Elizabeth City office for a few years in the mid-80s—this new office will allow us to get closer to those who need our help, partner better with other service organizations, and work more closely with community leaders.

“We want to be a strand in the fabric that holds this community together,” said Max Baker, one of two attorneys in the office. “Everyone in Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County should know that we are here for them. If you’re struggling with eviction or other housing issues, domestic violence, public benefits, consumer issues and more, come to us for help.”

The office’s second employee, Elliotte Kiel, is expected to start as an attorney in the coming weeks.

“Stopping evictions has always been one of our top priorities at Legal Aid,” Kiel said, “and this work has never been more important than it is now. The end of the national and state COVID-related eviction moratoriums has led to a nationwide eviction epidemic. African Americans have long been disproportionately impacted by eviction and that hasn’t changed since the pandemic. I’m eager to start turning that tide here in Pasquotank County.”

The office’s third employee, paralegal Tammy McGough, has a better reason than most to be invested in the work of this new office: She is an Elizabeth City resident herself.

“The services that Legal Aid provides help strengthen families, stabilize neighborhoods and boost economies. We are helping to make Elizabeth City a more just and equitable place for all residents, and I am honored, overjoyed and humbled to be doing this work in the place I call home.”

The office is located at 524 South Road Street, in the Hugh Cale building, which is named after a former slave who became a business and political leader in Elizabeth City in the late 1800’s. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County residents who need legal help can call our Helpline at 1-866-219-5262 or apply online at legalaidnc.org/apply. Our website also hosts a robust collection of free legal education and self-help resources at legalaidnc.org/get-help. Due to COVID restrictions, residents should avoid visiting the office in person unless they have an appointment.

Elizabeth City Office: Fast Facts 

  • Office opened in January 2022
  • Serves residents of Pasquotank County
  • Staffed by two attorneys and one paralegal
  • Satellite of our Ahoskie office
  • Operations are supported in part by generous donations from two anonymous donors
  • Address: 524 South Road Street, in the Hugh Cale Building
  • To get legal help:

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About 

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online at legalaidnc.org/apply.

Media Contact 

Helen Hobson, Public Relations Associate, helenh2@legalaidnc.org

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Education

DAVIDSON COUNTY – Our Right to Education Project filed a federal complaint today with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on behalf of a 14-year-old Black student and her family against Davidson County Schools (DCS). The complaint highlights a pervasive pattern of racial discrimination and harassment experienced by the student while attending Oak Grove High School during the 2021-2022 school year.

“I moved my family to Davidson County with the hopes of giving my children a better quality of life,” D’Shean Smith, the parent of the student named in the complaint, said. “Unfortunately, our relocation has been a living nightmare due to the discrimination and unfair treatment my oldest daughter experienced at Oak Grove. I am still in disbelief by some of the things my daughter experienced at school simply because of the color of her skin.”

The incidents of racial harassment and discrimination span over the course of three months, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Failing to discipline a group of white students for openly discussing pronunciation of the word “n*gger” in our client’s presence and then calling her “a n*gger”;
  • Punishing our client for going to the bathroom without permission while menstruating, while not punishing a white student who accompanied her;
  • Further punishing our client for expressing frustration about the incident; and
  • Failing to aid our client or allow her to call her mother while she suffered an extended anxiety attack caused by the discriminatory treatment.

“In a school district with so few Black students, administrators, and teachers, Black students must feel safe and supported at school,” said Crystal S. Ingram, staff attorney for our Right to Education Project who filed the complaint on the student’s behalf. “Students’ reports of racial discrimination must be taken seriously and investigated. When school leaders fail to properly investigate the reports of Black students, they thereby fail to effectively address and eliminate racism in schools. This results in maintaining a hostile and toxic school environment created by the misconduct of white students and teachers at the expense of the mental well-being of Black students.”

Taken as a whole, these incidents of racial harassment and discrimination amount to a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits the exclusion from participation in, being denied the benefits of, or otherwise being subjected to discrimination on the ground of race, color or national origin under any program or activity that receives Federal funds. The complaint further alleges violations of our client’s rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The pervasive pattern of racial harassment and discrimination against our client greatly exacerbated her pre-existing and well-documented depressive and anxiety disorders. Her self-confidence decreased, she experienced physical pain in her stomach, and she consciously avoided interactions with her teachers. Our client’s experiences at Oak Grove High School reduced her desire to attend school, resulting in her switching from in-person instruction to virtual learning for the remainder of the school year.

The following remedies are sought on behalf of the student:

  • A comprehensive investigation by the Office for Civil Rights of all the incidents documented in the complaint;
  • Appropriate and timely discipline of all DCS administrators, faculty and staff members who violated the student’s rights, DCS policies and expectations of employee conduct;
  • Training of school administrators, personnel and students on racial and national origin discrimination, and serving students with mental health disorders;
  • Payment of costs associated with therapeutic counseling, the student’s transfer to another school system, and a program to address the trauma and social harms she experienced due to the discrimination; and
  • Recalculation of certain grades.

“There is no acceptable excuse for our Black kids to experience the racism that this young queen had to face,” said Frankie Gist, community activist and founder of Hope Dealers Outreach. “Something must and will be done. The Davidson County School System and Oak Grove High School failed her. As a community, we cannot sit back and allow what they did to her to be swept under the rug. If we sit back, we fail her as well. My team at Hope Dealers Outreach and I stand with her. Her life matters!”

The pattern of pervasive discrimination and the tolerance of a racially hostile environment described above is endemic to DCS. They are no stranger to local, state-wide, or national attention on matters of racial conflict.

In 2018, the Winston-Salem Journal reported on a brawl that broke out during a high school football game when a white player from the predominately white South Davidson High School was tackled by a Black player from a neighboring predominately Black high school. The brawl started after the tackle when the white student called the Black student the “n-word.”

In 2019, South Davidson High School made national news in The Washington Post when a white student painted “Kill N*ggers!” on the school’s “spirit rock” and a group of students recorded a video of themselves with the phrase clearly visible to its viewers.

At Oak Grove High School, Black students make up just 4% of the student body, and the percentage of Black girls is merely 2%. According to the school’s statistical profile for 2022, the student named in the complaint was one of 17 Black girls in the school’s student body of 895 students.

“I was treated unfairly at Oak Grove compared to white students on so many occasions,” the student named in the complaint stated. “At this predominately white high school, the racial discrimination and daily challenges I faced made me feel isolated and unfit, but I know that what happened to me does not define me or my future.”

Read our complaint.

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About 

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org.

Our statewide Right to Education Project (REP) focuses on protecting the rights of children in public schools. REP cases involve student discipline, alternative schools, enrollment, discrimination, school security personnel, special education, bullying and academic failure. Learn more at legalaidnc.org/rep.

Follow Legal Aid of North Carolina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online at legalaidnc.org/apply.

Media contact 

Helen Hobson, Public Relations Associate, helenh2@legalaidnc.org

Author: pricelessmisc

RALEIGH – Laura Butler, a long-time attorney in our Central Intake Unit, passed away unexpectedly January 26. 

Laura was truly special. Her passion and dedication to serving our clients was unparalleled. Even in an organization full of selfless people, Laura stood out. 

She always put our clients’ time before her own, even requesting flexibility in her schedule so she could staff our intake Helpline after hours, ensuring that our clients’ work schedules didn’t prevent them from securing justice. She always volunteered to be the on-call attorney during holidays, allowing her colleagues to celebrate with their families while ensuring that no client was left behind. She also donated generously to causes that provided for our clients. 

Laura was one of the founding members of our Central Intake Unit, joining us in 2006, soon after the unit’s creation. She was part-time until her passing, using the extra hours to volunteer and engage in her many community activities.  

Prior to becoming an attorney, Laura was an engineer. As a well-thought-out second career, Laura decided to attend law school and ultimately joined Legal Aid with the sole purpose of giving back. She believed in Legal Aid’s mission to serve low-income and marginalized communities. 

During her time with us, Laura made an impact not only on the clients she worked with, but with her colleagues. The following testaments come from those who knew and worked with her. 

“‘How can I help?’ That was Laura’s purpose, whether it was helping a client or her colleagues. Laura did not limit her help to workdays or work hours. I still remember the many times during the holidays – Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day – when she contacted me to determine if the client had an emergency we needed to address.” 
Vilma Suarez, Deputy Director of Operations, former Managing Attorney of our Central Intake Unit 

“Laura was one of the most selfless people I have ever known. She always searched for ways to help our clients. At the office, she would ask everyone how they were doing and if they needed any help. She was also unflappable. I never once heard her raise her voice or complain about anything. She was a very calming presence in our office. Her loss cannot be overstated.” 
Alison Everett, Supervising Attorney, Central Intake Unit 

“Laura was a respected colleague and a dear friend. We began working together when the Legal Aid Helpline was created over fifteen years ago. Clients and coworkers have come and gone, but Laura remained a constant, never losing sight of our mission, never losing her zeal for advocating for our clients. Her quiet calm and fierce advocacy will be missed by those she served, and by all of us who had the pleasure of working with her and counting her as a friend.” 
Robert Amrine, Attorney, Central Intake Unit 

“Laura was passionate about helping people. She was always there for a colleague or a client. Laura quietly helped without seeking recognition. She donated generously to the NC Legal Feeding Frenzy and to others in need. Her kindness was well known and she touched all those she met. She will be deeply missed.” 
Sulaifa H. Siddiqui, Supervising Attorney, Central Intake Unit 

“Laura was the go-to person that everyone knew could handle a client case without hesitation. She was not only an excellent attorney but also a dear friend who cared about her colleagues and wanted to be involved to help or lend a listening ear. Yes, she was that person that you could truly count on, and she will be honored for her loyalty and her loving, giving spirit.” 
Connie Johnson, Intake Paralegal, Central Intake Unit 

“Laura was truly unparalleled in her ability to engage with our clients, especially those in stressful situations. Her manner unfailingly imparted empathy, compassion, and reassurance to clients that they were being heard and that she would do whatever she could to help. I was fortunate to work within earshot of her for many years and learn from her example.” 
Hope Williams, Supervising Attorney, Fair Housing Project 

“Not only was Laura an amazing advocate for her clients, but she was a great person. She will be missed.” 
Andrea Johnson, Paralegal, Fair Housing Project 

“I was privileged to work with Laura during my time at Legal Aid. I spent most of my time with her as an interpreter for her clients. I would notice that she was very devoted and how she took time to inform and educate her clients. She was passionate about her work. Her work left an impression and motivated me to always advocate for my clients to the best of my ability.” 
Raul Diaz, former staff, Central Intake Unit 

Click here to read Laura’s obituary. 

Author: pricelessmisc

RALEIGH – Jeffrey D. Dillman passed away peacefully but unexpectedly a month ago today, January 22. Jeff, as he was known to us, was a co-director of our Fair Housing Project, which actively and successfully fights housing discrimination on an individual and systemic level throughout our state.

His untimely passing at the age of 58 has left us reeling. While the Fair Housing Project is a relatively small unit in our large organization, the importance of its work and Jeff’s warm personality, quiet but strong moral character, and long tenure—he became co-director in 2012, a year after the Fair Housing Project’s launch—gave him an outsize influence here. His principled and passionate pursuit of justice epitomized the ideal legal aid lawyer. He served—and we hope that his memory continues to serve—as a model for many of his colleagues.

Testament to his dedication are the many notable successes the Fair Housing Project enjoyed under his leadership. Here is a sampling:

If you knew Jeff, then you know that words alone cannot adequately convey who he was as a person and colleague. However, for those who did not have the privilege of knowing him, we hope that the following remembrances from his closest colleagues provide at least a glimpse into his character and the difference he made for victims of housing discrimination in North Carolina.

“When I think of someone with great integrity, I often think of Jeff. There was just no one like him. He was unique and he was very generous. He was a singular individual in terms of his intelligence, his passion, and his capacity for hard work. He was just extraordinary in every respect, and he was a young man who left us much too early.”
—George Hausen, Executive Director

“Jeff was just the best and we miss him dearly. We’re just going to try and continue to do the work the way that Jeff wanted us to. He was just remarkable.”
—Kelly Clarke, Supervising Attorney, Fair Housing Project

“This has been a deeply sad time for us at the Fair Housing Project. I know he touched a lot of lives, and he was truly one of the very best people I’ve ever known. He was caring and generous and always willing to help a colleague. I am privileged to have known him, to have learned from him, to have him as a boss and a mentor. I know I’m a better advocate and a better person for knowing him, and I will miss him very dearly.”
—Lauren Brasil, Supervising Attorney, Fair Housing Project

“Back in November, I joined the Fair Housing Project as an attorney, and I was just thrilled beyond belief to be able to work with Jeff and learn from him. I am so impressed with his core competence with everything he did. He was an amazing leader and amazing friend, and he was such an advocate for everyone. He really encouraged me so much in my work and I will deeply miss him.”
Hope Williams, Attorney, Fair Housing Project

“Jeff was one of the best supervisors I have had the privilege of working with. He was always calm and easy going, compassionate, helpful, and ready to provide guidance if I needed it. He always had time for a quick question and encouraged my professional growth. I will never forget his kindness.”

—Andrea Johnson, Paralegal and Assistant Testing Coordinator, Fair Housing Project

“Jeff was an incredible manager, and you could see the love that his staff had for him. Jeff always had time for people. As committed as he was to getting the work right, the human side of Jeff was something that I know his staff really appreciated and that I appreciated. He was always a terrific advocate for his staff, in all different forums.”
—Suzanne Chester, Managing Attorney, The Child’s Advocate

“Jeff was one of the original people that jumped in as a volunteer to our Diversity Working Group. I didn’t get a ton of men lining up to volunteer for that. Jeff made every meeting, and he didn’t try to take over. The type of man that he was, I hope we could all, especially the men, emulate that, because he really stood up for a lot of good things. I just want to thank him publicly for that.”
—Gina Reyman, Managing Attorney, Durham office

“I am so thankful that I knew Jeff and knew him as a colleague. He was committed to all our clients, and to all the people in the world having better lives and having more opportunities. I remember often he would say to me ‘Willette, are you taking care of yourself?’ and he was always available to help. He was genuinely caring, the care that you can see in someone’s eyes, not just from their words, and I will miss his spirit dearly.”
—Willette Crews, Paralegal/Outreach Coordinator, Durham office

“When I started taking on additional responsibility and trying to figure out how to do that, Jeff was very generous and kind with his time. He met with me several times to teach me, mentor me and help me figure out how to be a better supervisor. I’m just devastated. He is irreplaceable.”
—Peter Gilbert, Director, Statewide Eviction Diversion Program

“Jeff was always precise, always so meticulous, always kind in all his comments. His passing has been very hard for us. We all have to pull together to help each other and check on each other. That’s very important, and it’s what Jeff would want us to do.”
—Yvette Stackhouse, Deputy Director of Administration

“Jeff was not only a wonderful attorney, but Jeff was also a good accountant. Jeff could have been an accountant any day of his life. He basically put the HUD budgets together himself. If I made a mistake, he would catch it, which was great. He made our lives so much easier. It was a privilege to work with him.”
—Bernetta Reynolds, Chief Financial Officer

“Jeff pursued publicity for the Fair Housing Project with complete selflessness. He never, ever sought recognition for himself. His motivation was always solely to effect positive outcomes for the project’s clients and for victims of discrimination in general. He recognized that public relations was simply another tool in his advocacy toolbox, and he used it skillfully and effectively. His example has always inspired me and will continue to do so. I will miss him.”
—Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations

To learn more about Jeff, click here to read his obituary. His memorial service will be held March 20 at 11 a.m. at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

Author: pricelessmisc

MURPHY— Jim Holloway has retired from Legal Aid of North Carolina after serving continuously in legal aid work in the state for more than 40 years, most recently as senior managing attorney in Legal Aid NC’s Murphy and Hayesville offices.

Holloway is well known in the community at large in Western North Carolina. Last month, the Clay County Progress published a story about his retirement on its front page, with quotes of praise from everyone from the Clay County Manager to a former client, social workers, and an educator.

Why did he stay in legal aid work for his whole career, when some young attorneys submit to a time of public service and then are attracted elsewhere?

Holloway said it goes back to core values and how you choose to spend your time. “It sounds sappy, but I learned a lot in Sunday school, and I believed it,” Holloway said.

Holloway said that when he graduated from law school in 1975, he “wasn’t of a mind to start a traditional law practice.” Instead, he kicked off his career by serving a year as a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) attorney in the Anchorage office of Alaska Legal Services. For Holloway, Alaska also held the lure of adventure. He developed a love of cross-country skiing there.

After his VISTA year he continued working for Alaska Legal Services, serving the native population in the Bristol Bay area, which consisted of small villages and towns reachable mainly by small plane.

In 1978, Holloway returned to his native North Carolina and joined Eastern Cherokee Legal Services as a staff attorney. That organization later became Western North Carolina Legal Services (WNCLS), the predecessor of the Sylva office of Legal Aid of North Carolina. Holloway achieved promotion to co-executive director of WNCLS.

Larry Nestler, currently a part-time senior managing attorney for Legal Aid NC, worked together with Holloway every day “for a long time,” according to Nestler.

As Nestler tells it, Holloway became an expert in complex cases, including jurisdiction relating to tribal affairs, truth in lending, and many kinds of consumer cases. Nestler remarked that Holloway was extremely thorough on behalf of every client, whether the case was complex or not, and whether the monetary amount in controversy was large or small.

“Jim would not have been able to practice that way if he were in private practice, where greater resources go to the potentially larger pay-offs,” Nestler said.

In the courtroom, Holloway was very calm and collected “even when opposing counsel was acting like a rear-end,” according to Nestler. Nestler said he would get irritated and would urge Holloway not to let the asininity go. But Holloway would always handle it calmly. He also had a reputation among his co-workers for helping clients deemed difficult by most others on staff.

In 2002, Holloway secured funding to open a Legal Aid NC office in Hayesville. From that office he served Legal Aid’s mission in Clay, Cherokee, and Graham counties for almost 20 years.

Holloway continually developed his expertise in consumer law and became a resource on the subject for Legal Aid attorneys across the state. According to Nestler, Holloway spent long nights doing research and built long pleadings that left nothing to chance. “He would wear the other side out,” Nestler said. “They would settle, and Jim’s client would get almost everything demanded.”

In 2017, the North Carolina Bar Association awarded Holloway the Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award. Judge Donna Forga of the 30th Judicial District wrote one of the recommendation letters in support of the award. Forga recalled that Holloway had mentored her. She said that she, now as a judge, enjoyed the opportunity to see Holloway accompany young attorneys into her courtroom, offering tips and directions “while modeling patience and professionalism in dealing with difficult opposing counsel.”

Nestler doesn’t foresee Holloway actually “retiring” in the sense of not working. “People will still call him for help, and so he will,” said Nestler.

Holloway confessed he doesn’t know right now what his retirement will look like. “It’s pretty darned nice not to have any responsibilities other than Medicare, insurance, and so on,” he said. He said that for the time being, he plans to get in touch with old friends and spend more time with his grandchildren.

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About

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online at legalaidnc.org/apply.

Our Smoky Mountain Offices, located in Sylva and Murphy, serve Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Territory. Follow us on Facebook.

Media Contact

Bryan Alexander, Legal Aid of North Carolina, 404-273-3104, bryana@legalaidnc.org

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Housing

DURHAM— City of Durham residents and landlords seeking emergency rental and utilities assistance now have until February 6 to submit their applications before the Durham Rent Relief Program closes to new applicants.

The Durham Rent Relief Program, funded by the City of Durham and administered by Legal Aid of North Carolina, began accepting applications on January 12. Over 1,700 applications have been submitted in less than one month, with another 1,400 in the process of being completed.

According to City of Durham Community Development Director Reginald J. Johnson, this large volume of requests may already be enough to use all of the available funding. “The decision to stop taking new applications is based on funding availability compared to the volume of requests we’ve already received through this program,” said Johnson. “We do not want people to continue to apply for assistance if we know there is not enough funding left in the program to assist them.”

Applications are now being reviewed as they are submitted. Renters at imminent risk of eviction will receive top priority. Priority is also being given to households with very low incomes, or with one or more members who have been unemployed for at least 90 days.

“As we receive new applications, the pool gets reprioritized with people in one of the higher priority groups going to the top of the review pile,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, this means that not everyone who has applied already, or who will apply before the February 6 closure date, will receive financial assistance.” 

February 6 will be the last day for individuals to open new applications in the Durham Rent Relief Program online application portal. Individuals who open applications on or before February 6 will still be able to complete their applications and submit them for review after the closure date.

Renters and landlords who need assistance with the online application portal may also call (919) 521-5777 or send an email. In person assistance is also available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Durham County Courthouse, Courtroom M4, 3rd Floor, 510 South Dillard St.

After the February 6 closure date, renters facing eviction may call Legal Aid of North Carolina’s toll-free Housing Helpline at 1-877-201-6426 or visit the Housing section of the website for free legal resources on eviction and renters’ rights.

The Durham Rent Relief Program uses funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

 

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About

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online.

Media contact

Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, Legal Aid of North Carolina, 919-856-2132, seand@legalaidnc.org

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Housing

DURHAM—Legal Aid of North Carolina and the City of Durham are announcing the launch of the Durham Rent Relief Program, which provides rental and utility assistance to city residents who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

City residents can go to durhamrentrelief.org to apply and learn more about the program, including eligibility requirements, what documents they need to apply, how to get help with the application process, how the program works for landlords, and more.

“Using legal advocacy to ensure stable housing for low-income people has always been a top priority for us,” said George R. Hausen, Jr., executive director of Legal Aid of North Carolina.

“Unfortunately, legal help alone isn’t enough right now,” Hausen said. “People need to be able to pay rent to stay in their homes. We undertook this project because we needed to do more for people facing eviction and homelessness. By distributing this financial relief, we are ensuring that Durham residents have what they need to stay in their homes, safe and sound.”

The program is funded by the City of Durham, using funds provided by the federal government for emergency rental assistance. “Low-income Durham renters have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Elaine O’Neal, “The Durham Rent Relief Program will offer much-needed financial help to keep people in their homes.”

A total of $5.7 million in rent and utility assistance is available. Assistance from the program is available on a first-come, first-served basis until funding runs out. Renters at imminent risk of eviction will receive top priority. Priority will also be given to households with very low incomes or with one or more members who have been unemployed for at least 90 days.

The program can provide assistance to cover past-due, current, and future rent, and past-due and current utility payments. Renters who received assistance from Durham County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program in 2021 can also receive assistance from this program, as long as the assistance covers different months.

Once an application for assistance is approved, payments from the program can be made within 72 hours.

The Durham Rent Relief Program is funded by the City of Durham and administered by Legal Aid of North Carolina. The program uses funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Fast facts

  • Renters and landlords can apply for assistance through the program.
  • Residents of public housing, renters receiving project-based rental assistance, and renters with housing vouchers can receive assistance through the program.
  • Hotel and motel residents can receive assistance through the program.
  • Immigrants of any immigration status can receive assistance through the program.
  • Assistance can cover past-due, current and future rent, and past-due and current utility payments.
  • Priority is given to renters facing imminent eviction, households with very low incomes, and households with at least one member who has been unemployed for more than 90 days.
  • Renters who received assistance from the Durham Emergency Rental Assistance Program in 2021 can receive assistance from this program as long as it covers different months.

# # #

About

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online.

Media contact

Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, Legal Aid of North Carolina, 919-856-2132, seand@legalaidnc.org

Author: pricelessmisc

After 20 years of service as the founding President and Executive Director of Legal Aid of North Carolina, George R. Hausen, Jr., recently announced that he will retire in the summer of 2022.

“Leaving Legal Aid is truly bittersweet for me,” Hausen said. “My 20 years here have been the most meaningful of my career. The passion, dedication and tirelessness of my colleagues – not to mention the resiliency and courage of our clients – inspires me daily. I will miss being surrounded by the best of what humanity has to offer. I also know that now is the time for new leadership. Legal Aid is better positioned than ever before to make a real, meaningful difference in the lives of North Carolinians in need. The organization deserves a new leader with a vision for what it can become over the next 20 years. I am excited for that future and hope that all of our supporters are too.”

Under Hausen’s visionary leadership:

  • Legal Aid grew from a $13 million organization with 220 staff into the powerhouse it is today. With its current staff of 475 and its operating budget of $38 million, Legal Aid is one of the largest human-service nonprofits in North Carolina, the fourth largest law firm in the state, and one of the largest civil legal aid organizations in the country.
  • Legal Aid launched innovative projects aimed at providing holistic services to its clients, including the NC Navigator Consortium, which helps enroll North Carolinians in affordable health insurance on HealthCare.gov; the NC Medicaid Ombudsman, which serves as the advocate for beneficiaries in North Carolina Medicaid’s new Managed Care system; and the Disaster Relief Project, which helps vulnerable households prepare for, respond to and recover from ruinous natural disasters.
  • Legal Aid served 800,000 households since its launch in 2002. By employing innovative strategies, like establishing the Central Intake Unit to standardize client intake across the state, launching a statewide client helpline and online intake application, and maximizing the use of the latest technology to deliver free legal-education and self-help materials to the client community, Hausen ensured that Legal Aid advocates could deliver the most impactful service to those who need it most.

“It’s hard to imagine Legal Aid of North Carolina without George,” said Gonzalo E. Frias, Chair of Legal Aid’s Board of Directors. “Heading into our 20th anniversary year, the organization is the strongest it has ever been – and that is due in large part to George’s steady, tireless and innovative leadership. Under his direction, the organization has evolved from merely a law firm into the full-scope human-services juggernaut for the poor that it is today. He leaves his successor with giant shoulders to stand on.”

In preparation for Hausen’s retirement, Legal Aid’s Board of Directors has engaged Armstrong McGuire & Associates to lead an Executive Transition Management process. A transition and search committee has been formed and is led by longtime Legal Aid board member Reid C. “Cal” Adams, Jr., Partner at Womble Bond Dickinson in Winston-Salem; and Vice Chair of Legal Aid’s board of directors, Ashley Campbell, director of Campbell Law’s Community Law Clinic and Of Counsel at Ragsdale Liggett PLLC in Raleigh.

About Legal Aid of North Carolina

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online.

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Housing

RALEIGH – Global law firm Baker McKenzie, in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina and Bank of America, is pleased to announce the publication of the North Carolina Homeless Youth Handbook, an online resource designed to empower young people to understand their legal rights and take action to build safe, stable futures with North Carolina-specific information.

Nearly 500 unaccompanied youth were identified as living on their own and without consistent access to shelter in North Carolina in 2020. In North Carolina schools, nearly 35,000 students are estimated to be experiencing some form of homelessness, and their struggles have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Handbook is an online resource written in plain-language and in a youth-friendly question-and-answer format to ensure young people can use it themselves. The resource will be shared with schools, libraries, public agencies, social advocates, and others throughout North Carolina.

“Homeless children are among the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Hope Williams, an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina. “It is critical that those who have the ability to help these children do everything they can to educate them about their rights and connect them to resources that can help stabilize their lives. The Homeless Youth Handbook is a powerful tool for homeless children and their advocates, and we at Legal Aid are proud to have contributed to its development.”

About 75 volunteers donated more than 1,000 hours of pro bono effort to research, write, and edit the handbook, which covers topics including education, domestic and dating violence, healthcare, and more. Organizations that supported the effort include Bank of America, ACLU of North Carolina, Disability Rights North Carolina, North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender, Wake County Public Defender’s Office, Equality North Carolina, and the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program.

Baker McKenzie has partnered with other organizations to produce 11 handbooks in 10 states and Washington D.C. Learn more here.

“Housing is the most basic structural need for everyday life, and the lack of a stable home fuels many social and economic challenges that our communities face. We welcome the opportunity to work with our organizational partners to release The Homeless Youth Handbook. This project demonstrates how collaboration among in-house counsel, non-profits and law firms can exponentially increase assistance to those in need, particularly the most vulnerable among us during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Colin Murray, North America Chief Executive Officer at Baker McKenzie.

“Through partnerships like this, we provide youth in the US, and their advocates, with clear guidance on young people’s legal rights,” added Jaclyn Pampel, Baker McKenzie Pro Bono Partner and one of the leads of this effort. “Thank you to the talented teams at Legal Aid of North Carolina and Bank of America, and to all of our supporting partners, for their collaboration on this important project.”

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About Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie helps clients overcome the challenges of competing in the global economy. We solve complex legal problems across borders and practice areas. Our unique culture, developed over 70 years, enables our 13,000 people to understand local markets and navigate multiple jurisdictions, working together as trusted colleagues and friends to instill confidence in our clients. (www.bakermckenzie.com)

About Legal Aid of North Carolina

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Need legal help? Call 1-866-219-5262 (toll-free) or apply online.