Your Local Region

Oregon Lawyers Working Together For Justice

Here is some news about what's happening with legal aid in regions around the state. If you are looking for legal assistance, please visit legal aid's website to locate the office nearest you.

ALBANY SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Linn, Benton
Square Miles: 2,976
Poverty Population: 52,660


The Albany Office is partnering with the Lincoln County Office on a grant to work on housing discrimination. Albany Regional Director Mitzi Naucler reports that this grant allows the office to spend more time on fair housing issues such as discrimination based on family status, reasonable accommodation requests for people with disabilities, and racial discrimination.
Heading up this grant is part-time attorney Blair Bobier. Blair works two days a week in the Albany Office and one day a week in the Lincoln County Office. Many years ago Blair worked for the Native American Program of LASO. He was happy to come back to LASO, if only in a temporary grant funded capacity. Blair will work on the grant until June 30, 2017.

 


CENTRAL OREGON SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson
Square Miles: 7,757
Poverty Population: 44,419


The Bend Office is seeing an increase of cases related to the housing crisis. Bend has the lowest vacancy rate in Oregon (0.5%). Many low-income people are moving into more rural areas because there are insufficient housing options in Bend, and what is available is very expensive.
The Bend Office has launched two pro bono projects in the past year. The first is an Expungement Clinic. Helping clients expunge non-violent offences can help put them in a better position to secure jobs and housing. The second project is a Virtual Legal Clinic. This clinic is a partnership with the Portland law firm of Miller Nash Graham and Dunn. MNGD attorneys meet with low-income clients from Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties via video conferencing.


COOS BAY SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Coos, Curry, and Western Douglas
Square Miles: 3,294
Poverty Population: 21,021


Affordable and habitable housing continue to be major issues on the southern Oregon coast. They have recently seen a rise in cases involving involuntary move-out notices from long-term care facilities. This is especially troubling when the resident has been at the facility for a number of years, requires considerable daily medical attention, and has limited housing and care options locally.
The Coos Bay Office has a grant from the DOJ Crime Victims Services Division to provide emergency legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence. They also continue to work on a yearly grant from the Area Agency on Aging to serve elderly community members in Coos and Curry Counties.


GRANTS PASS REGIONAL OFFICE SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Josephine
Square Miles: 1,639
Poverty Population: 22,906


In Grants Pass the affordable housing crisis continues to worsen which leads to a cascade of problems for low income residents of Josephine County. There is no vacancy among rental units so the property management companies and rental owners have waiting lists to call when a vacancy arises. People are losing their housing subsidies because they cannot find rentals to use them with. There has been an increase in complaints of discrimination.
Grants Pass Managing Attorney Eric Dahlin worked with legal aid's Statewide Pro Bono Manager, Amanda Thorpe (Hughes Rote Brouhard & Thorpe) and the Josephine Women Lawyers to create and launch a Domestic Violence Pro Bono Project. In June a CLE was given to train volunteers on how to represent domestic violence survivors in restraining order cases. Attendance was great, as was the response by local lawyers to volunteer to take cases. Domestic violence cases remain one of the highest priorities of the office.

 


HILLSBORO REGIONAL OFFICE SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Washington, Columbia, Tillamook, Clatsop, and Yamhill
Square Miles: 4,023
Poverty Population: 126,248


Leslea Smith, the Managing Attorney of the Hillsboro Office, states that the crisis in the availability of low-income housing has hit their region hard. Clients report that there is virtually no place they can afford in the current housing market. Even when they find a place, the cost of deposits, first and last month's rent, and other moving expenses is prohibitive. As a result, the office is focusing more on eviction defense. They are able to resolve many cases out of court and keep clients in their housing. They are also working on strategies to preserve existing low-income housing.


JACKSON COUNTY
Square Miles: 2,801
Poverty Population: 48,971


The Jackson County CNPLS office is seeing an increase in requests from veterans and indigent clients for help with expungement and reinstatement of drivers licenses to access employment, housing, and public benefits. They report seeing a crisis in affordable housing availability and an increase in homelessness of families with children.
The office is working on the creation of a medical-legal partnership to provide representation in guardianship cases. The office received a grant to expand fair housing outreach and representation, and also received a technology grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust.
CNPLS welcomed Laura Lindley-Gutierrez as their new Immigration Law Project Staff Attorney. Laura states that she is "excited about my work as the immigration attorney at CNPLS, because as people flee war, climate change, and economic injustice, there will be an ever greater need to keep families together. I am proud to work for CNPLS because I work with attorneys and staff who are dedicated to social, economic, and racial justice."


KLAMATH SERVICE AREA
Counties: Klamath and Lake
Square Miles: 14,079
Poverty Population: 19,997


The Klamath Falls Office is seeing and addressing serious problems in safe, affordable housing and maintenance of basic tenant rights. The office litigates and works on building coalitions with community partners and government agencies. Drew Hartnett, the Regional Director of the office, reports that they are also seeing a growing trend in unlawful collections practices directed at low-income tenants.


LANE COUNTY
Square Miles: 4,554
Poverty Population: 96,289


This office continues to focus on cases that reflect the needs in Lane County, such as housing, public benefits, consumer law, domestic violence, sexual assault, and immigration cases. The program intends to assist under­served populations such as people of color, rural residents, and older adults.
This past spring, Senator Ron Wyden was the keynote speaker at the U of O Law School Graduation. In his speech he praised a small group of people for "singlehandedly changing the world." One was Wayne Morse and another was Jean Beachdel, Co-Executive Director of LCLAC.

 


LINCOLN COUNTY
Square Miles: 922
Poverty Population: 10,121


The Lincoln County Office reports that housing is tightening more than they thought possible. Their vacancy rate is less than 3%—anything below 5% is considered a housing emergency. The housing shortage is exacerbated by the increasing percentage of vacation and second homes. Lincoln County has one of the state's highest rates of homeless children. The office is working to engage with these families and kids through the District's Homeless Education and Literacy Project.
The Lincoln County Office, along with the Albany LASO office, is part of a three-county grant that partners with the Oregon Fair Housing Council and Community Services Consortium to identify and work on housing discrimination issues. Part-time attorney Blair Bobier works in both offices.


MARION-POLK SERVICE AREA
Counties: Marion and Polk
Square Miles: 1,925
Poverty Population: 97,140


The Salem LASO and OLC offices both report increases in housing cases, most likely due to the shortage of rental housing in the community. They have also witnessed an increase in mobile home owners receiving eviction notices from out-of-state landlords. The Salem OLC office continues to provide community education with local partners like ARCHES (an organization that provides services to families experiencing homelessness), Mano a Mano and CAUSA (organizations that serve non-English speaking families), and the DeMuniz Center (an organization that provides re-entry services for previously incarcerated people).
In April of this year, both offices moved to new locations in downtown Salem. They are now located at 494 State Street, across the street from the courthouse and one block from the Cherriots Transit Center.

 


ONTARIO SERVICE AREA
Counties: Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur
Square Miles: 27,617
Poverty Population: 16,259


Dev Parikh is the new Managing Attorney of the Ontario OLC Office. Dev has a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Illinois. He comes to Eastern Oregon after a long career representing low income individuals in Illinois, both as a public defender and for Prairie State Legal Services, where he worked as a foreclosure and consumer rights attorney. Dev is fluent in Spanish, and looks forward to helping the impoverished population in his service area, which encompasses Harney, Grant, Baker and Malheur Counties—an area larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. Dev is proud of his career as a legal aid lawyer and is excited to have the chance to be involved in impact litigation and to provide creative solutions to help ameliorate poverty and suffering among the low-income population in his service area.
The office reports seeing an increase in cases involving immigration issues and issues concerning guardianships.

 


PENDLETON SERVICE AREA
Counties: Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wheeler
Square Miles: 13,347
Poverty Population: 28,436


The Pendleton Office welcomed Gerald Lund to their office. Gerald states, "I was inspired by internships with legal aid organizations during law school to pursue a career in legal aid. Legal aid is a critical resource for working class people to exercise fundamental rights and resolve disputes in a fair way." Gerald explains that he often meets clients during the most stressful times in their lives. He is proud whenever he can help a client feel understood or less alienated, and whenever he can inspire confidence that they can shape their future in a positive way for themselves and their families.

The Pendleton Office bids a fond farewell to pro bono attorney Dan Ousley, who is retiring after 40+ years of practice. A long-time District Attorney, Dan still found time to help poor people through Pendleton's pro bono program. He always went above and beyond the call of duty for clients. He will be missed!
In December of 2015 the office launched a Pro Bono Bankruptcy Clinic. Bankruptcy Judge Peter McKittrick, LASO's Statewide Pro Bono Coordinator, and two long-time volunteers with the Portland Bankruptcy Clinic (Todd Trierweiler and Justin Leonard) flew to Pendleton to put on a CLE on Chapter 7 Bankruptcy followed by a reception with the Judge. A number of private attorneys in the region signed up to volunteer for this quarterly clinic.

 


PORTLAND REGIONAL OFFICE SERVICE AREA
Counties: Multnomah, Clackamas, Hood River, Wasco, Sherman*
Square Miles: 6,053
Poverty Population: 238,427
*In addition to the counties listed above, the Portland Regional OLC office covers Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington, and Yamhill counties.


Legal Aid Services of Oregon
The housing crisis continues to have a huge impact on the five counties served by the Portland LASO Office, particularly communities of color and vulnerable populations. This office is focused on engaging with the hardest hit communities, and is pursuing cases that will lead to larger impact. These issues include the displacement of low income communities through building-wide notices terminating tenancies, discriminatory practices including disparate impact, and severe habitability issues. The office has also devoted time to helping preserve affordable housing such as mobile home parks, often places of last resort for low-income and disabled people.
The Portland Office hired several new staff in 2016. Staff attorney Guillermo Ramos started at the beginning of the year to fill a domestic violence grant position funded through the Justice Reinvestment Act. His position is focused on expanding services and increasing access to legal services for Latina survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Before coming to LASO, Guillermo worked at the public defender's office in Pendleton for five years. Asked why he wanted to work at Legal Aid, Guillermo says, "I grew up poor. There were not a lot of resources for my family or others in my community. I want to help people who are kept from meaningful access to justice due to lack of financial resources." Guillermo spends his time at the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence, and in court.
Ivette Cruz was hired to replace legal secretary Cristela Delgado Daniels, who left LASO to become a IL at U of O Law School. Ivette brings excellent skills working with clients, a background working with social service agencies, and an interest in learning new areas of law. As a native Spanish speaker, she will increase access to Spanish speakers. She will split her time working on the statewide foreclosure project and helping with intake on pro bono projects.
Erin White, a staff attorney and pro bono coordinator, started in February of this year in a part-time capacity. In May, the position was bumped up to full-time. The position had been reduced to part-time in 2011 when legal aid was hit by the recession. Erin coordinates a number of pro bono projects, including the Domestic Violence Project. Returning the position to full time status will allow the office to better serve and support pro bono attorneys.
Oregon Law Center
This office reports that housing continues to be the most critical need for the client community. They are focusing on protecting the rights of homeless people to ensure that they are not displaced without due process. They are also doing outreach and community education at several metro-area elementary and high schools.

 

 


ROSEBURG SERVICE AREA
Counties: Douglas
Square Miles: 5,036
Poverty Population: 26,075

The Roseburg office has seen a significant increase in housing-related requests for assistance. Many people are having a hard time finding housing and as a result are forced into units that are substandard and hazardous. The office reports seeing housing with dangerous wiring, unpermitted and unsafe gas heat, leaky roofs, floors with unsafe holes, and homes with inadequate sewage.
The office received a United Way Community Impact grant that formed the basis for a full day of domestic violence training. The sessions were attended by many agencies, the courts, and representatives from several of the counties' largest employers. Over the past two years the office has significantly increased their outreach and education to seniors throughout Douglas County. They have also increased their placement of pro bono cases with private attorneys in the community.
Walter Fonseca is the office's new staff attorney. Prior to coming to Roseburg, Walter worked for OLC in Ontario. Walter states, "I believe it is important to use my education to better the community I live in. I am proud of my position because I get to take direct legal action for people who would otherwise be excluded from the system." The office also has a new support staff person, Candace McFadden. Candace is from Douglas County. She supports the office with her knowledge of ASL as well as her familiarity with the smaller towns in the region. Candace states, "working at LASO is a great way to see the immediate impact for clients when we can help them."