Justice for Lake Arbor Tenants Subjected to Dangerous Housing Conditions

The NC Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and the law firm of Robinson Bradshaw filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the former owners and property managers on behalf of class of Lake Arbor tenants who had paid rent during periods of time when serious Housing Code violations were left unrepaired in their units.

To read the Lake Arbor settlement agreement click here.

If you believe you are entitled to funds from the Lake Arbor settlement, please fill out this online form (English) (Spanish) or leave a voicemail at 704 376-1600 ext. 524.

Si usted piensa que tiene derecho a recibir fondos del avenimiento de Lake Arbor, por favor llene este formulario en línea (inglés)(español).

Charlotte (Dec. 9, 2020) – The former owners and managers of west Charlotte’s Lake Arbor Apartments agreed to pay $547,500, to settle litigation brought on behalf of a class of former tenants. The Charlotte Housing Inspector found the class of former tenants’ apartments to have dangerous conditions.

The North Carolina Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and Robinson Bradshaw represented plaintiffs in the case against Lake Arbor Dean TIC LLC and Lake Arbor 80M TIC, LLC, as well as former property managers Broad Management Group, LLC and Wellington Advisors, LLC. The state Superior Court complaint alleged that the former Lake Arbor owners and property managers violated Charlotte’s Housing Code and North Carolina consumer protection laws between 2015 and 2019 when they improperly sought and collected rent from tenants living in Lake Arbor apartments found to have dangerous conditions. The complaint alleged that the Lake Arbor Apartments owners’ and property managers’ actions violated North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Unfair Debt Collections Act, and Residential Rental Agreements Act. The defendants denied those allegations and claimed that they did nothing wrong or illegal.

“These landlords kept taking the rent and taking the rent, all the while refusing to fix serious safety problems in tenants’ units, as found by the City,” said former Lake Arbor tenant and class plaintiff Serita Russell. “It’s about time they were called to account. I’m glad the lawsuit was settled, and I hope other landlords take this as a lesson on what happens when a landlord cares more about making money than the safety of its tenants.”

After the filing, Lake Arbor evicted all tenants rather than complete repairs. The defendants then sold the property to New York-based URS Capital Partners in April. This sequence of events exposed how dire Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis has become, leaving tenants vulnerable to displacement and homelessness just for exercising their rights to a safe and habitable place to live.

An important consequence of the litigation is that landlords in Charlotte will think twice about allowing dangerous conditions to persist at their properties.

“Landlords and property managers are legally obligated to keep units in a fit and habitable condition and make timely repairs of all violations noted by local housing inspectors,” said Julian Wright, an attorney at Robinson Bradshaw. “Continuing to collect rent while failing to make such repairs can itself violate the law, subjecting the landlords to the possibility of treble damages and attorneys’ fees.”

The North Carolina Justice Center is one of the state’s preeminent voices for economic and social justice. As a leading progressive research and advocacy organization, its mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services, and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security. For more information, visit www.ncjustice.org

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly Legal Services of Southern Piedmont) provides expert legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford it, but desperately need it, something the organization has been doing since its inception in 1967. The Advocacy Center serves more than 3,500 families each year who are facing a crisis of safety, shelter, health or income. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy provides committed advocacy work on behalf of clients, resulting in policy changes at the local and national level to impact a greater number of people. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is a champion for those in need, ensuring their safety, economic security and family stability. For more information, visit charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

Robinson Bradshaw is a Carolinas-based corporate law firm celebrating 60 years of providing comprehensive legal services to our clients. We represent businesses across the country ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Visit robinsonbradshaw.com for more information

Looking Toward a New Administration

Friends,

This has been an unparalleled election season for many reasons, among them occurring during a global pandemic and national protests for racial justice. We now know the outcome of our national and state elections. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy applauds those who have fought so fiercely to protect the democratic process, register others to vote, and cast their own ballot. Despite numerous obstacles, North Carolinians voted early and by-mail in record numbers yielding this historic administration. Kamala Harris is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be elected to national office—an incredible achievement for Harris and the United States as a whole. This is a historic end to an historic year.  

Now, more than ever, our country needs strong leadership to overcome the socio-economic consequences of this pandemic. We hope that the Biden administration will implement policies that expand services and protections to low-income families and all United States residents during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these issues include universal healthcare, raising the federal minimum wage, ensuring the availability of asylum relief for immigrants, and expanding access to our legal system. 

The Advocacy Center also acknowledges the important role of the state legislature in passing policies that impact our community and our clients. Here are a few key issues affecting North Carolinians that our organization encourages the state legislature to pass and for our community to support: 

  • Medicaid Expansion: Access to affordable care is critical during the COVID-19 crisis. North Carolina is just one of twelve states not to have expanded Medicaid eligibility so that all state residents have affordable healthcare options. Without Medicaid expansion, it is estimated that over 500,000 people fall into the coverage gap—even more since the start of the pandemic. Learn more about the coverage gap here
  • Fixing our broken unemployment insurance system: Over one million North Carolinians have applied for unemployment benefits since March. The overwhelming volume of applications paired with implementing new assistance programs has caused significant delays, making the process more confusing for applicants. These funds are critical to families trying to recover from this pandemic. 
  • Expanding food assistance programs: The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program expanded food assistance for North Carolinian families during this pandemic. Families receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) have been receiving the maximum eligible benefits through October 2020. To ensure individuals can feed their families, these programs and expansions must continue without work requirements. 
  • State funded rent and mortgage relief: The CDC Eviction Moratorium expires on December 31st, 2020 with no adequate plan to keep all North Carolinians safely housed. The state legislature must act quickly to increase program funding for rent and mortgage relief by allocating nearly 1.5 billion unreserved dollars toward assistance for families affected by COVID-19.  

While these issues have a distinct urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also necessary social safety nets beyond this global crisis. As federal and state protections expire, programs must be implemented to ensure there is support for all North Carolinian families to endure this pandemic and put our state on the road toward economic recovery. 

While we celebrate the incredible work of activists, voters, and elected officials across the country, the fight for safety, security and stability in our society continues. Call your state and federal representatives regularly to show your support of low-income North Carolinian families and pandemic relief efforts. Volunteer with community organizations, exercise your constitutional right to protest and petition, and practice empathy and compassion. Our community’s influence does not end after we cast our ballot: looking beyond electoral politics is integral to lasting change. 

This year has certainly presented challenges to our communities, but Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will continue to serve and affirm low-income families, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, disabled people, and immigrants. We strongly believe that diversity of life and experience is what makes our country great and we will persist in fighting for access to justice for all people. Our vision is to build a just community, where all people are treated fairly, which does not, and will never, end after an election. 

Sincerely, 

The staff at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy 

The 2020 Election

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy logo

Friends,

The 2020 election has been certainly unprecedented. Although ballots have already been cast in North Carolina and across the nation, we understand that we likely will not know the outcome of the election for days to come. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy recognizes and is grateful to activists and organizations that have mobilized the American public to exercise their right to vote.

North Carolinians voted early and by mail in record numbers with over four and a half million people voting absentee this season. Whether you voted in person or by mail, thank you for voting and for your commitment during this election. 

While we wait to hear who the next President Elect and our state representatives will be, we hope that you and your family can take some time to rest, reflect, and regroup. Anxieties are particularly high during elections and have been worsened by the global COVID-19 pandemic. We have endured an exhausting election year. 

The fight for justice for all does not end at the ballot box. We must continue to hold our representatives accountable for the pressing needs of our communities during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue to take action: 

  • Regularly contact your state and federal representatives to encourage them to pass legislation that extends pandemic relief efforts and expands social safety nets for your neighbors.  
  • Get involved and volunteer with local organizations; you can learn about volunteer opportunities at The Advocacy Center here.  
  • Support and, if you are able, join those who are working for racial equity.  

Let this election become your call to action and the start, if not continuation, of your commitment to access to affordable housing, food and financial security, health insurance, and justice.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will be here to serve our community regardless of election results. We continue to advocate for the safety, security and stability of low-income families, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, veterans, and immigrants through civil legal aid. As the economic and legal repercussions of this pandemic unfold, The Advocacy Center will continue to adapt to meet urgent needs.

We are here, we are working, and we are listening.

Sincerely, 

The staff at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy 

Voting in 2020

Have you made your plan to vote yet?

In a historic election year, your voice deserves to be heard. Vote for #accesstojustice this fall.  Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy encourages everyone who can to vote and let their voice be heard. 

Below you can find information on how to register to vote in North Carolina, ways that you can vote in North Carolina, resources for this information, and non-partisan election volunteer opportunities.  

How to Register to Vote: 

Regular voter registration ends on October 9th, 2020. Eligible voters can register to vote three ways: 

  • BMail: Fill out the voter registration form (English) (Spanish) and mail it to your local Board of Elections office or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Click here to find your local Board of Elections office.  
  • Online: North Carolina residents who have a valid driver’s license can register to vote online on the DMV website. There is no fee associated with this service.   
  • In Person: You can register to vote in person at your local Board of Elections office, DMV, or during early voting.  

If you miss the regular voter registration deadline, you can register at your early voting polling precinct between October 15th and October 31st AND vote on the same day. You must have a document with your legal name and proof of address such as a valid NC driver’s license or other government issued identification, a recent utility bill, or a current college/university identification with proof of campus residency. Learn more about early voting registration here. Check your early voting site here.   

How to Vote: 

Registered voters in North Carolina can cast their ballot by mail (also known as absentee voting) or in-person:  

  • By Mail: You can request your absentee ballot online via the North Carolina absentee ballot request portal. You should request your ballot as soon as possible and at least two weeks prior to election day due to mail delays. After receipt of your ballot, cast your vote in the presence of a witness and return it to any of the following locations by 5pm on November 3rd: 
  • Mail it to or drop it off at your local Board of Elections office. Click here to find your local Board of Elections office. 
  • Drop it off at your early voting site between October 15th and October 31st. Find your early voting site here.   
  • In person: You can vote early in-person between October 15th and October 31st or on election day on November 3rd. Please note that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the locations of polling precincts and that in-person voters will be required to follow all COVID-19 state safety guidelines. Curbside voting is available for individuals who are unable to enter the polling precinct. Find your early voting site here. Find your election day voting site here.  

Get Involved 

There are several options to for interested volunteers to get involved in the 2020 election: 

  • Election officials and student assistant election officials direct voters during in-person voting days. Learn more and sign up on the NC Board of Elections website.  
  • Train and sign up to be a poll monitor with Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition.  
  • Register your friends and family to vote with the information provided in this email! (Or forward this email to them!) 

Action Alert: A Second Chance for N.C. Residents

Roy Cooper and the N.C. Legislature give people with criminal records a second chance  

Yesterday, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Second Chance Act (SB 562) into law after its unanimous passage in the N.C. General Assembly. This “clean slate” legislation expands eligibility for N.C. residents to have nonviolent criminal offenses removed from their records through expunctions.

This is welcome news for Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the people it serves because it eliminates barriers to safety, economic stability and family security.   

Through its Community Redevelopment Project, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy helps eligible citizens get expunctions, which seal criminal records from public view and give people a second chance at a life as law-abiding citizens without barriers to opportunity.    

More than 2 million North Carolinians have a criminal record. Dismissed charges and old convictions have lasting consequences on individuals that impact their access to employment, housing and other opportunities.   

“The Second Chance Act is a welcomed fresh start for millions of North Carolinians with criminal records who would like a clean slate.”   

Lashieka Hardin, attorney, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy

“This legislation is also a significant step toward addressing the severe disparities that exist in our justice system that disproportionately impact people based on income and race,” Hardin said.   

The Second Chance Act is a critical step in the process of improving racial justice and equity in our society. The NAACP reports that a criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a job offer by almost 50 percent, and the negative impact of a criminal record is doubled for Black people. A Black person with a criminal record has a 10 percent chance of getting a call back compared to white men who have a 22 percent chance.

The Second Chance Act will provide Black men and women who are disproportionately charged and convicted of crimes the chance to pursue opportunity without a criminal record holding them back.  

What the Second Chance Act Will Do:

  • Automatic relief for certain misdemeanor and felony charges that are dismissed or disposed “not guilty.”
  • Relief for Juvenile offenders by allowing the expunction of misdemeanor and Class H or I felony convictions that occurred when a person was either 16 or 17 and before December 1, 2019.
  • Gives prosecutors the power to petition for the expunction of dismissed charges and charges disposed “not guilty” as well as “Raise the Age” convictions.
  • Expands eligibility by allowing individuals to petition for the expunction of nonviolent misdemeanor criminal convictions after seven years of good behavior.

If you think you qualify for an expunction or have any questions about the process, call Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy at 704-376-1600 ext 501. Also, tune in to our Facebook Live on Tuesday at noon for more detailed information about the Second Chance Act.    

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy believes all people deserve second chances at opportunity, and we’re glad to see that after many years, the state of North Carolina has taken a step toward that goal. 

Share this message 

Governor Roy Cooper signed the Second Chance Act today, granting millions a second chance at opportunity.    

Share this message with your networks and encourage those who may qualify for an expunction to contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy for more information on what to do next.  

Learn more information about Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s work on expunctions through its Community Redevelopment Project.   

Action Alert: Supreme Court Sides with DACA Recipients, Providing Relief for Immigrant Youth and Their Families

This decision emphasizes that DACA is right, and that for DACA recipients and their families: home is here.   

Today, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in a 5-4 ruling that said the Trump administration’s reasoning for ending the program was “capricious and arbitrary.”  

In the decision for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.” 

Chief Justice Roberts added that the administration could try again if it provided adequate reasons for shutting down the program.

A joint statement from Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Comunidad Colectiva, the Hispanic Federation, Action NC and Latin American Coalition:  

Today’s decision is a testament to what happens when directly impacted communities demand change. The Supreme Court sided with the American people- who overwhelmingly support the DACA program- and rejected the decision to deport immigrants who are American in every sense except by law.

This decision protects the lives of nearly 700,000 current DACA recipients, including more than 24,000 in North Carolina, and their families from deportation-for now. This decision affirms what we have always known: immigrants make America great. It comes as our country continues to struggle under COVID-19. During this time, DACA recipients and immigrants broadly have played critical roles in supporting our health systems and economy. 

Currently, 29 percent of all physicians, 38 percent of home health aides and 23 percent of retail-store pharmacists are foreign-born. Immigrants also make up a large proportion of essential staff in grocery stores, hospitals, sanitation and transportation. According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly one-third of DACA recipients work in these essential jobs.
With this decision, DACA recipients and their families can continue to live safely in our community. Nearly 250,000 children in this country have a parent with DACA status. Since the Trump administration rescinded the program in 2017, immigrant youth, their families and allies across the country have been fighting to protect DACA. While this decision gives needed relief for DACA recipients and their families, immigration and deportation threats are far from over. 

Charlotte immigration advocacy groups including the Latin American Coalition, Hispanic Federation, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Comunidad Colectiva, and Action NC call on the Trump administration to respect the decision of the Supreme Court and not try to end the program again. The administration must also instruct U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) not to share information that DACA recipients and their families have voluntarily given to the government with ICE.  

As we celebrate today’s decision, we also acknowledge how much more fighting for change there is still to do. While this decision is a welcome relief for many, there is still much to be done to protect the DACA program and its beneficiaries. One step is for people to make their voice heard by voting in the November election.  

This decision follows weeks of courageous organizing and protests from Black people and allies across the country to demand an end to police brutality, white supremacy and a call to reallocate police resources in ways that strengthen our community safety net. We stand with the immigrant and Black community and commit to fighting for their stability and safety.

Each of our advocacy groups are here to support dreamers and DACAmented individuals during this time. On Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m., Comunidad Colectiva will hold a Facebook Live with more information about what this decision means and what to expect as we move forward.  This victory is for the youth and their families who are fighting the good fight. Today, the Supreme Court stood with the immigrant community, protecting their right to work and thrive in the place they grew up, the place they call home. 


Our Asks for Next Steps 

  • Demand that USCIS immediately begin accepting new DACA applications and continue DACA renewals, restoring the program to its original state before termination.
     
  • Call on Congress to pass permanent protections and solutions that help these beneficiaries, including extensions of TPS work permits, protections from deportation for immigrants, and benefits in any future stimulus package to address COVID-19.
     
  • Call on state and local leaders to get ICE and CPB out of our communities and sign onto our pledge as well as working to provide free COVID-19 testing, treatment and services for all, regardless of immigration status.
     
  • In solidarity with Black people, we call for the investment in community initiatives that strengthen Black and Brown communities, as well as changing laws and enforcement policies to end the systemic mass incarceration of people of color.
     
  • An immediate suspension of the Public Charge rule

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The Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the DACA program today, but the fight to protect DACA continues. 

Share this message with your networks and encourage those who need assistance with DACA to contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy for more information on what to do next.  

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Action Alert: Tell Berger and Moore No Excuses. Expand Medicaid.

Health insurance and access to health care are more important now than ever before. No one should have to make the hard choice between getting critical care and making ends meet. 

But half a million people in N.C. do not have health insurance and thousands more are losing coverage with their jobs as our economy takes a massive hit during the COVID-19 crisis.

Our state is more vulnerable to this pandemic than it should be, but it’s not too late for our legislature to do the right thing.

Expanding Medicaid now would ensure access to health care for ALL North Carolinians, while bringing billions to our economy, creating thousands of jobs and supporting struggling rural hospitals that need to stay open, at a time when all of this support is critical to our state’s viability.

NOW is the time. Call or write to Senator Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore TODAY!

Our legislature cannot ignore this need any longer, and its leaders need a clear reminder from us.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is proud to join the North Carolina Justice Center, N.C. Moms Rising and advocates across the state in calling for our legislative leaders to expand Medicaid.

Call 1-855-408-2357 to contact Senator Berger and Speaker Moore’s offices

Sample Phone Message:
Dear Senator Berger/Speaker Moore: Our state is more vulnerable to COVID-19 than it should be, but you can do the right thing. You can expand Medicaid to make sure everyone can get the health care they need during this crisis. As our neighbors continue to go uninsured and without care during this pandemic, we all are at risk for infection, complications and even death. Don’t continue to put our state at risk. Please expand Medicaid. We are depending on you. 

Email Senator Berger: Phil.Berger@ncleg.net
Email Seaker Moore:
Tim.Moore@ncleg.net

Sample Email Message:
Dear Senator Berger/Speaker Moore,

We need our leadership to come together and figure out a solution that protects North Carolinians from COVID-19 and financial ruin. To do that, you must act now to expand Medicaid for more than 500,000 people.
The COVID-19 crisis is weakening our economy, workers and employers in ways that no other recession has before. We have seen unprecedented numbers of people lose their jobs and health insurance benefits in the middle of a public health crisis — when people need access to coverage the most.

The health of the person next to us affects our health and the person next to them too. We all need one another to be healthy and thriving to contribute to our economy and our community.

Those who continue to work in “essential” businesses to ensure we can meet our needs are the faces of North Carolina’s uninsured. They work in our grocery stores, delivery services and gas stations. They risk their health and their family’s health by going to work each day so that the rest of us can survive.

In risking so much, our state owes it to these workers to ensure access to critical care when they need it most through health coverage.

We need our leaders to rise above partisan norms in times of crisis to demonstrate they are willing to work for the health and welfare of our state. I urge you to expand health insurance coverage during this crisis.

Sincerely,

Update from last week:

THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to submit comments to for a stronger N.C. Last week, we called on you to advocate from home  by submitting comments to the House Select Committee on COVID-19 response. There are various policies the state can consider to stabilize families and our economy, but here were three points we emphasized in our comments:

  1. Expand Medicaid
  2. Reform Our State’s Unemployment Insurance Program
  3. Restore funding for civil legal aid.

Read the full Action Alert here.
In case you haven’t gotten around to submitting something, there’s still time! Here’s some more inspiration on how our state can reform its unemployment insurance program from our friends at the North Carolina Justice Center via NC Policy Watch: Veteran attorney explains specific upgrades NC should make to its unemployment insurance system.

Submit your comment

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Encourage others to contact our legislative leaders and tell them now is the time to expand Medicaid.

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Action Alert: Advocate at home for a stronger N.C.

A lot of us may be stuck at home, but we can still advocate for a stronger N.C.

Our state is more vulnerable to COVID-19 than it should be, but our legislature can do the right thing by quickly enacting policies that preserve safety, financial security and family stability for ALL North Carolinians.

House speaker Tim Moore has convened a bipartisan House Select Committee to discuss policy options in response to COVID-19. The committee is soliciting public comments through an online portal to inform their priorities.

Our representatives need to hear from you!

Take a few minutes to submit comments on how the state should respond to COVID-19 in ways that ensure N.C. is better equipped to weather crisis down the road.

There are various ways the legislature could stabilize families and save our economy during these uncertain times, but here are three options we’re emphasizing:

  1. We must expand Medicaid.

    Health insurance and access to health care are more important now than ever before.

    No one should have to make the hard choice between getting critical care and making ends meet. But half a million people in N.C. do not have health insurance and thousands more are losing coverage with their jobs as our economy takes a massive hit. 

    Workers in many “essential businesses” are most likely to be uninsured and in our state’s coverage gap.

    Expansion is available, but our legislature has refused to do it.

    All of North Carolina is at risk when our neighbors are uninsured and unable to get the care they need.

    Medicaid expansion requires no increase in state taxes and can be done quickly to increase access to care and treatment. Federal taxes that we currently pay to fund expansion in most other states would cover 90% of expansion here. The remaining 10% could be paid by insurers and hospitals. 

    Expansion would bring billions to our economy, thousands of jobs and support struggling rural hospitals that need to stay open, at a time when this support is crucial.
     
  2. We must improve our Unemployment Insurance program.

    Our state has the cruelest unemployment insurance program in the country. 

    In 2013, the legislature cut benefits by almost half while making them more difficult to get. 

    The unemployment insurance trust fund has almost $4 billion today, but the program still operates based on those cuts. Before this crisis began, fewer than one in 10 unemployed workers qualified to receive benefits.

    Gov. Roy Cooper’s recent executive order as well as congressional action expanding benefits to workers impacted by COVID-19 are a start, but our state’s program does not go far enough to support people who are out of work.

    Thousands now depend on unemployment benefits for significant financial support. We need to make these benefits accessible to help families and our economy weather this crisis.
     
  3. We must restore state funding for civil legal aid to help people meet basic needs. 

    Life altering decisions are made every day in our legal and administrative systems that directly impact a person’s chance at stability. These systems are not easy to navigate without legal help, but no one has the constitutional right to an attorney in civil legal cases.

    Only those who can afford legal help get what they need.

    Before the recession, state funding for civil legal services was $7 million per year. Now that funding totals about $1 million.

    People who never expected to need our help are now trying to figure out how to manage debt, access health care, avoid homelessness, stop domestic abuse, and file for small business loans to help the economy recover.

    This work stabilizes families in crisis. It reduces the need for emergency services and improves families’ income, health and well-being.

    Legal aid attorneys help families prevent bad situations from spiraling out of control. Restoring this funding would enable N.C.’s legal services organizations to answer more calls for help during this crisis and beyond, ensuring equal opportunity for low-income people.

    We cannot wait another day to provide civil legal assistance to help families preserve their stability and succeed.

Now is the time

Now is the time for our representatives to step up and serve the people of this state, who are the victims of this viral pandemic.

These investments in our community would ensure all residents can reach their fullest potential regardless of socioeconomic background or whatever crisis life throws their way.

Submit your comment

Need more inspiration? 

Check out our 2020 Advocacy Agenda for more ways we can support
safety, security and stability for ALL North Carolinians.

Share this message 

Encourage others to submit comments this week.

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Action Alert: New HUD Proposal Would Roll-Back Fair Housing Protections, Enable Discrimination

Joint statement with the N.C. Justice Center

This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a notice of proposed rulemaking to substantially change its existing rule on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH),” an important civil rights regulation implementing the Fair Housing Act.

The NC Justice Center (NCJC) and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (CCLA), based on our initial review of the new draft rule, have substantial concerns and believe it will weaken enforcement of fair housing laws as well as the ability for residents to challenge housing discrimination and racial and ethnic segregation here in North Carolina.

HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) mandate was designed to correct discriminatory housing practices as well as the lasting impacts of government and privately sponsored residential segregation. Under the prior AFFH rule, jurisdictions and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) that receive federal funding must analyze patterns of segregation and discriminatory housing practices for families with children, people of color, people with disabilities and members of other protected classes. They are also required to take actions to address barriers to fair housing. 

HUD’s proposed new rule is a step backwards in three specific areas:

  • First, unlike the prior AFFH rule issued in 2015, HUD’s proposed new rule does not even mention the need to address the negative effects of historic patterns of segregation. Instead, it only focuses on income without consideration of all the other barriers to affordable housing.
  • Second, HUD’s new rule will eliminate the community participation and engagement requirement that provides opportunities for members of local communities to have a say in the AFFH process.
  • Third, the draft new rule will no longer require jurisdictions to determine what barriers to fair housing exist in their areas, instead merely allowing them to determine their own fair housing goals. Public housing authorities, which serve thousands of North Carolinians and can play a crucial role in either reinforcing segregation or promoting integration and improving life opportunities, will no longer have substantive obligations under this draft rule.

As currently written, the proposed rule will undermine state and local efforts in North Carolina to address systemic and unfair racial disparities in housing, as well as the persistent patterns of racial segregation that continue to create unfair and unjust life outcomes for people and communities of color in our state.

A note from Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy about this proposal:

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was in Charlotte this week to announce a proposed rule change that would effectively roll back fair housing protections against discrimination and segregation.

His choice to make this announcement in Charlotte is an irony not lost on Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. We work with local partners every day to address the systemic inequities that have contributed to the lack of economic mobility in our community as well as the affordable housing crisis.

In 2013, the Equality of Opportunity study ranked Charlotte last in upward mobility among the 50 largest cities in the U.S. Since then, our community has agreed that issues of access, equity and economic opportunity are systemic problems. We must address these problems to ensure ALL in our community have a fair shot at achieving their greatest potential, regardless of income, background, race or zip code.

This rule would permanently weaken enforcement of fair housing laws. Instead of ensuring fair access to housing that is affordable, safe and habitable, this rule would perpetuate the legacy of discrimination and segregation that has shaped the community we live in today. 

This legacy is systemic. When the federal government chooses to ignore its role in that legacy, the opportunity to remedy past wrongs and adequately build a community that is equitable for all its residents is lost.

As an advocate for low-income and marginalized people, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy believes our community deserves better. Join us in opposing this rule and help us protect fair access to housing.

What you can do

Use Your Voice

Submit your comment on this proposal during the 60-day public comment period. Tell the federal government that our community believes in access to housing for all people. 

Share this message with your networks.

Encourage others to submit comments against this rule by March 16.

Learn more about national efforts to preserve fair housing and civil rights protections.

Media Links

“US Housing Chief Unveils Plan to Roll Back Fair Housing Rule” WFAE

“US Housing Secretary Ben Carson in Charlotte to focus on affordable housing” WCNC

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Action Alert: “Show Me Your Papers” Bill Threatens Community Safety

Yesterday, the N.C. House approved a bill that strips local authority from sheriffs’ departments by requiring them to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and assist in enforcing federal immigration law.

The legislation now goes before Gov. Roy Cooper for consideration after the N.C. Senate passed the bill in June.

House Bill 370, the “Show Me Your Papers” law, would require all N.C. sheriffs and jails to comply with immigration detainer requests made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, even though these detainer requests are not considered valid warrants, which means sheriffs should have full discretion within their local authority to not recognize them.

The bill also requires police to determine the immigration status of any person arrested for a criminal charge and to notify ICE if the person is not a legal resident or citizen and forces jails to wait for federal approval before releasing an individual being held, even if the person is eligible for release under North Carolina law.

It would allow anyone to sue their local government if they believe it is not cooperating with immigration enforcement activities or breaking state law related to immigration.

HB370 is a direct response to local sheriffs across North Carolina, including Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden, choosing to end federal 287(g) programs in their counties, which ended the requirement of local law enforcement to cooperate with and assist ICE in detaining undocumented residents.

Mecklenburg County participated in 287(g) for 12 years. During that time, the program diverted our local public safety resources away from protecting our community toward carrying out federal immigration enforcement policies.

Instead of addressing and preventing violent crime, the program incentivized local law enforcement officials to actively seek out undocumented residents with no criminal history through procedures that border on racial profiling and erode trust in the immigrant community.

Mecklenburg County Sherriff Gary McFadden was elected to office on a wave of local support for ending the 287(g) program.

Now the N.C. General Assembly is trying to override the will of Mecklenburg County voters to assert its own control over how our local law enforcement officials do their jobs.

Is this the best use of tax-payer dollars to keep our community safe? We don’t think so.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy believes this bill is a detriment to community safety, local autonomy and family unity for all Mecklenburg County residents.

We urge Governor Roy Cooper to veto this legislation.

287(g) facilitated thousands of deportations by arresting individuals for minor traffic infractions or misdemeanors. This practice has torn families apart, made immigrants vulnerable targets for exploitation and eroded the trust of law enforcement in the immigrant community.

None of these ramifications made our community safer and neither does a systematic dragnet that targets communities of color. Instead, it forces people to withdraw from their communities, from working, attending school, seeking medical care and reporting crime out of fear.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy continues to stand with our immigrant neighbors, advocating for inclusion and fairness under the law to ensure their safety, security and stability in our community.

What you can do

Contact Gov. Roy Cooper’s office by phone
(919) 814-2000 or email or sign this petition to express your concern for HB370 and call on him to veto the legislation.

Our community deserves safety, local autonomy and protected family unity.

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