In January 2014, the firm became a pro bono partner with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless (WLCH), whose mission is to provide legal assistance and advocacy services to Washington, DC’s low-income or no-income communities. In conjunction with WLCH, the firm recently assisted a mother who was living in a homeless shelter with her four children in overturning a decision by the Washington DC Housing Authority (DCHA) refusing to process her application for housing assistance because of alleged past debt, even though the statute of limitations had already passed and they were no longer considered legal debts. Through the talent and persistence of Van Ness Feldman attorneys Ahuva Battams, Tyson Kade, Avi Zevin and Rich Bonnifield, a series of administrative hearings were held and a successful settlement with DCHA was reached.
As a result of the settlement, DCHA agreed to revise its entire application review policy for its Housing Choice Voucher Program. In accordance with federal law, applicants will no longer be required to pay off debts whose statute of limitations for collection has passed. Applications will no longer be summarily dismissed for past debt without a thorough review of mitigating factors and current circumstances, as required by Washington, DC regulations. The waiting list for this type of voucher contains at least 76,000 people.