Fellowship will benefit at-risk and homeless veterans with legal needs
StoryThe King County Veterans Citizen Levy Oversight Board has agreed to provide funding to help finance a legal fellowship with the goal of providing important legal services to King County veterans. The AmeriCorps fellowship is with the Northwest Justice Project and will assist veterans in removing the barriers to housing, employment, and self-sufficiency.
The Levy Oversight Board approved the allocation of $12,000 towards the fellowship. The fellowship will be sponsored by Equal Justice Works and the Corporation of National and Community Service. The Northwest Justice Project also received funding pledges from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs and the Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP) Section of the Washington State Bar Association.
“We owe it to our veterans to honor their service and sacrifice by helping connect them with the legal services they need,” said King County Council Chairman Bob Ferguson, who worked with the Northwest Justice Project and the Veterans Citizen Levy Oversight Board to secure funding for the fellowship.
“Providing legal services for veterans in need will open doors to housing, employment and self-sufficiency,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “These services will complement the work being done by other local organizations and help many area veterans and their families achieve more stable lives.”
The AmeriCorps Fellow will be a full-time attorney who will work closely with Northwest Justice Project staff and coordinate with other organizations in providing a full range of legal services to at-risk and homeless veterans. The fellow will assist with housing application denials and evictions, VA and public benefit applications, criminal records, and advice regarding other civil legal problems that are a barrier to housing, employment, and self-sufficiency.
“This will provide an important service that veterans need and will now be able to utilize in our community,” said Bill Wood, Chair of the Veterans Levy Oversight Board. Former Board Chair Doug Hoople added “We are one of ten communities in the country who are taking the lead in support of our troops this way. Job well done!”
“This is yet another example of how we are collectively working together to get it right,” said John Lee, Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. “Our veterans and their families deserve no less from their country, their state, and their community. I salute King County for all they do for our veterans and their families.”
The Northwest Justice Project, Washington State’s publicly funded legal aid program, is a not-for-profit statewide law firm that provides free civil legal assistance and representation to low-income people and communities throughout Washington State.
César Torres, the Northwest Justice Project's Executive Director, expressed his “deep appreciation for the support from the Veterans Citizen Levy Oversight Board and Council Chairman Bob Ferguson for helping to make possible critically needed work on behalf of veterans needing legal assistance to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency.”
In addition to providing direct client representation to eligible veterans, the AmeriCorps Fellow’s activities will include the following:
• Identify and help develop “tool kits” as resources for Northwest Justice Project staff to use in representing veterans on a variety of legal issues.
• Develop collaborative working relationships and outreach plans with the network of agencies and organizations that provide services to veterans and that may make initial assessments and referrals to the Northwest Justice Project.
• Collaborate with local firms and bar associations to promote pro-bono attorney recruitment, training, case referral/placement, and data collection efforts.
This is one of ten AmeriCorps veterans fellowships awarded nationwide. Federal funding for the fellowship is currently available for one year and may be renewed for a second or third year if funding is made available in the future. The Northwest Justice Project is currently reviewing 66 applications for the fellowship.
Voters adopted the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy in 2005. It generates dedicated funding to help King County veterans, military personnel, and their families through a variety of housing and supportive services.