Members of Congress Join LSC for Access to Justice Forum Looking at Housing Insecurity and Domestic Violence

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WASHINGTON – Members of Congress and leaders of the legal community will join the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) on October 19 from 1-3:30 p.m. EDT for a virtual forum on access to justice looking at housing instability, domestic violence and the challenges the pandemic and natural disasters present 

Gene B. Sperling, White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator and senior advisor to President Biden and LSC Board Chair John G. Levi will provide opening remarks about the ways COVID-19 has heightened the need for civil legal aid for low-income families facing job losses, evictions and other problems stemming from the pandemic. American Bar Association President Reginald M. Turner, Jr. will provide an overview of how the legal community is responding to the pandemic’s challenges. 

Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) will join the forum’s first panel for a discussion on the civil legal issues that arise for individuals residing in manufactured housing. People living in these communities are often vulnerable to housing instability, natural disasters and other threats. Rep. Khanna has introduced legislation to address this issue which is also being explored by LSC’s Housing Task Force. In addition to Rep. Khanna, speakers include Meredith Bruch, staff attorney, Northwest Justice Project; Cesiah Guadarrama Trejo, co-associate state director, 9to5 Colorado; Nick Smithberg, executive director, Iowa Legal Aid; and Esther Sullivan, assistant professor of sociology, University of Colorado Denver. LSC Board Member Frank X. Neuner, Jr., a partner with NeunerPate and co-chair of the Housing Task Force, will moderate the panel.  

Following this discussion, Rep. Fred Upton (MI-6), vice chair of the Congressional Access to Legal Aid Caucus, will join Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, chair of the Conference of Chief Justices’ Access and Fairness Committee, in delivering remarks.  

A second panel will look at how the pandemic and natural disasters affect domestic violence and ways the legal system is responding to the increased threat. Panelists include Circuit Court Judge Jason D. Dodson, Division 10, 21st Judicial Court of Missouri; Brittany Hightower, staff attorney, Lone Star Legal Aid; TeAndra M. Miller, managing attorney and project director, Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Practice Group, Legal Aid of North Carolina; Pamela Roychaudhury, managing attorney, Legal Aid of Western Missouri; and Deborah J. Vagins, president & CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence. LSC President Ronald S. Flagg will serve as moderator.  

The event will be livestreamed on LSC’s Facebook page. 

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

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