by Adrian Tirtanadi
The events of Ferguson and New York City have showcased, once again, the deep problems in our criminal justice system.
However, there is another body of law intended to protect the vulnerable in our society. This law, called the civil law, has been shown to be extremely effective at protecting the housing, property, family and employment rights of our neighbors when utilized.
Sadly though, poor people in our society are almost never able to use the civil law to protect their rights. Simply put, this is because there aren’t enough trained lawyers available to help the poor, vulnerable and oppressed enforce their civil rights.
In fact, in the United States today there is only about one legal aid lawyer for every 14,000 legal needs faced by qualifying low-income Americans. Less than 20 percent of the demand for civil legal help is being met in any way by any provider. Thanks to these numbers, the U.S. ranks internationally 64th in the world in the accessibility and affordability of our civil justice system.
There is no part of San Francisco with greater unmet legal need than Bayview Hunters Point. Together, the southeast neighborhoods have more low-income households than Mid-Market and the Tenderloin combined, but we have only one program dedicated to serving the civil legal needs of people here.
Poor people in our society are almost never able to use the civil law to protect their rights. Simply put, this is because there aren’t enough trained lawyers available to help the poor, vulnerable and oppressed enforce their civil rights.
Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal was started less than two years ago by a group of dedicated young lawyers who were concerned about access to justice in San Francisco’s most marginalized neighborhoods. Since then we have handled over 400 cases in more than 35 areas of law. We have recovered over $105,000 in damages and have cancelled over $74,000 in debt. We have also prevented 22 families from being displaced.
Hundreds of local residents depend on us to save their housing, prevent fraud, restore their family rights and protect their property rights. We’ve represented single mothers, homeless men, undocumented immigrants, local entrepreneurs and more. We have gone against the city, landlords, creditors and even the state prisons and won a huge percentage of our cases.
Hundreds of local residents depend on us to save their housing, prevent fraud, restore their family rights and protect their property rights.
We want you to invest in justice this season by donating to Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal. Together we can ensure that everyone, no matter what their income is or what kind of issue they have, can access legal representation. We will send a message that even the least of these in our community should not be outside the rule of law.
Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Our tax ID number is 45-3360280.
We want you to invest in justice this season by donating to Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal.
You can donate online by going to http://bhpcommunitylegal.org/donate or by mailing a check to 4622 Third St., San Francisco, CA 94124.
Adrian Tirtanadi is executive director and co-founder of Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal, 4622 Third St., San Francisco. Contact them at 415-735-4124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.