For many DC residents, the overlapping public health and financial crises have led to a devastating combination of increased debt, reduced income, overwhelming account delinquencies, and heightened vulnerability to fraud. Even before the emergence of these crises, DC residents – and particularly communities of color – often faced illegal debt collection practices and other consumer protection challenges such as credit reporting issues, identity theft, predatory lending, and unjust punishment through fines and fees. With the recent expiration of emergency moratoria, thousands of residents now face consumer lawsuits. Without legal representation, the most common result in a debt-related lawsuit is a default judgment against the defendant, which is often the first step in a downward economic spiral. Join us to hear from a provider and its government and community partners about safeguarding consumer rights through legal assistance and community know-your-rights education programs, preserving economic stability, and dismantling racially inequitable policies regarding debt-collection, fines, and fees.
Moderator: Debbi Lindenberg, Program Officer, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Panelist: Ariel Levinson-Waldman, President and Director-Counsel, Tzedek DC
Panelist: Rahsaan Bernard, President, Building Bridges Across the River
Panelist: Jason Downs, DC Office of the Attorney General