Bar Foundation Awards $243K to Legal Aid Groups

October 8, 2015

The D.C. Bar Foundation has awarded more than $243,000 to five local legal aid organizations for four projects focused on foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment legal assistance.

The funding comes from a 2014 settlement on mortgage-related litigation between the U.S. Department of Justice and Bank of America Corporation. The settlement provided that every Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program in the country receive funds to support legal aid organizations for legal services on foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment.

IOLTA exists in every state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bar Foundation administers the District's IOLTA Program.

Recipients of the settlement funds include the Joint Court-Based Foreclosure Prevention Project of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Legal Counsel for the Elderly, the Save Museum Square Project of the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, the Deanwood Neighborhood Preservation Project of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, and the Affordable Housing Preservation Project of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil and Urban Affairs.

The funds will be used to help provide representation for low-income and elderly District residents in foreclosure cases; provide counsel and preserve affordable housing for Asian American tenants of the Museum Square apartments in Chinatown;hire an attorney to preserve the historic Deanwood neighborhood; and ensure that affordable housing properties in the District transition to market rate without displacing low-income tenants.

The District's IOLTA Program was created in 1985 by the D.C. Court of Appeals and became mandatory in 2010. Under the requirement, every attorney admitted in the District must place eligible client funds in an IOLTA account unless they qualify for an exemption. The interest generated by IOLTA accounts is pooled to provide civil legal aid to disadvantaged individuals.

View the Bar Foundation's complete list of grantees and projects.