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 last priority setting exercise in the Albany area identified the need for legal services for seniors and family law, and staff has focused increased work in those areas. The Albany office currently has a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women for a temporary full-time employee, and staff members meet clients at the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence twice a week.
CENTRAL OREGON SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson
Square Miles: 7,757
Poverty Population: 44,419
Central Oregon staff serve on multiple partner organization committees and boards and work with them to improve services for low-income residents, including a program bringing dozens of organizations together to better work with clients who have suffered trauma, and a group that pairs social workers with people who receive housing vouchers. Bend continues to have the lowest vacancy rate in Oregon, and homelessness has risen 31% in the past two years, according to the Homeless Leadership Coalition’s 2017 county data. The focus of the Central Oregon office has shifted to even more housing work as the impact on veterans, other adults, youth, and even children continues.
COOS BAY SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Coos, Curry, and Western Douglas
Square Miles: 3,294
Poverty Population: 21,021
Coos Bay staff has strong relationships with social agencies, shelters, and other groups that work with potential and current clients. Recent priority setting reaffirmed that affordable and habitable housing continues to be a major issue on the south coast, and extensive outreach with the local homeless population as a part of a coalition working to improve transitional housing and basic services led to new insights into unique issues faced by community members. The Coos Bay office has a grant from the DOJ Crime Victims Services Division to provide emergency legal services to survivors of domestic violence. They also continue to work on a yearly grant from the Area Agency on Aging to serve elderly individuals in Coos and Curry Counties.
GRANTS PASS REGIONAL OFFICE SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Josephine
Square Miles: 1,639
Poverty Population: 22,906
The Grants Pass office is focusing more resources on the struggles of clients because of the severe housing crisis. For example, people are losing housing subsidies because they cannot find rentals to use them with. Long-standing cuts to the Josephine County sheriff ’s department resulted in general safety issues and delays in court service of critical documents. This affects the restraining order process and housing cases. The rise of homelessness, lack of emergency shelter, lack of affordable housing, and lack of public resources to address these issues are all aspects of the housing crisis where legal aid assists clients.
HILLSBORO REGIONAL OFFICE SERVICE AREA
Counties Served: Washington, Columbia, Tillamook, Clatsop, and Yamhill
Square Miles: 4,023
Poverty Population: 126,248
The Hillsboro office has increased its focus on assisting with employment problems for lowwage industries such as hotel workers, janitorial workers, and construction laborers. A new grant from Meyer Memorial Trust continues a volunteer clinic called Project SCRUB (Scrubbing Criminal Records to Unlock Barriers) to increase income self-sufficiency and remove barriers to employment and housing; this grant allocates funds for staff time to coordinate the clinic and funds to cover court fees when they cannot be waived. Staff members have also provided recent trainings, discussion, and education programs on new laws and orders that could change federal immigration enforcement for the community and for specific clients.
Square Miles: 2,801
Poverty Population: 48,971
The Jackson County Center for Nonprofit Legal Services 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.
KLAMATH SERVICE AREA
Counties: Klamath and Lake
Square Miles: 14,079
Poverty Population: 19,997
The Klamath office staff continue to see a trend in ever-increasing difficulties of many lowincome residents in finding and keeping safe, affordable housing. Drew Hartnett, the Regional Director of the office, reports that they are also seeing a growing trend of unlawful collections practices directed at low-income tenants. Building coalitions with community partners and government agencies is key in domestic violence and housing cases. Conveniently, their offices are near local homeless shelters and DHS offices.
Square Miles: 4,554
Poverty Population: 96,289
The Lane County Legal Aid & Advocacy Center has merged its program with the Oregon Law Center. Erika Hente, who previously worked with legal aid in Lane County and was most recently the Regional Director of Central Oregon’s legal aid office, has returned to the area to head up the former LCLAC staff, all of whom continued on in their roles through the merger. The office also recently upgraded its outdated computer systems. The continued leadership through the transition means that the cases and priorities of the office have been maintained, which was the goal, as the community needs have not shifted.
Square Miles: 922
Poverty Population: 10,121
Assistance with housing continues to be a top request from clients and a high priority for staff time. Lincoln County continues to have a near-zero vacancy rate. Housing stock is increasingly being converted to second homes and vacation rentals, which makes the housing shortage even tighter. Local efforts to identify barriers to affordable housing have included study groups and task forces, and staff continue to search for solutions to these complicated problems. Lincoln County also has one of the state’s highest rates of homeless children, and the staff is working to coordinate services and enforce protections through the district’s Homeless Education and Literacy Project.
MARION-POLK SERVICE AREA
Counties: Marion and Polk
Square Miles: 1,925
Poverty Population: 73,363
The LASO office in Salem has been ramping up its expungement clinic to help a broader group of eligible Oregonians navigate the new system. Legislative changes in 2022 made the expungement process simpler and created wider eligibility. The Salem office undertakes appellate representation for clients throughout the state, focusing on cases that will have wide-reaching positive effects for other Oregonians. The office continues to host Eviction Defense Project attorneys working to keep Oregonians housed. The Salem office's Wildlife Disaster Relief Program continues to help survivors navigate FEMA appeals, recoupment defenses, document replacement and other legal obstacles on the road to recovery.
ONTARIO SERVICE AREA
Counties: Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur
Square Miles: 27,617
Poverty Population: 16,259
The Ontario office welcomes a new managing attorney, Jon Dennis, who left private practice to join legal aid and looks forward to doing his part to make the system work better for people living in poverty. The Ontario office recently received a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women to hire a new staff attorney entirely devoted to issues of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. While most attorney time in the office is dedicated to family law with a focus on preventing domestic violence, housing issues continue to be critical for many in the area, with homelessness and substandard housing continuing to be problematic.
PENDLETON SERVICE AREA
Counties: Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wheeler
Square Miles: 13,347
Poverty Population: 28,436
The Pendleton Service area just completed an exhaustive priority setting process, analyzing client and case data and over one hundred survey responses from clients, social services agencies, lawyers, judges, and other community members. Existing priorities were affirmed as being accurate based on that data, and the substantive work of the office will continue, with particular emphasis on housing and domestic violence. The quarterly Bankruptcy Clinic, launched in December 2015, just saw its first round of discharges.
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.
The Portland Regional Offices of Legal Aid Services of Oregon and Oregon Law Center serve the largest poverty population in the state. Homelessness and housing problems continue unabated as a major legal issue for low-income clients in the region. LASO’s recent priority setting process identified an increased client need for attorney assistance in education-related cases, particularly for individuals with disabilities and students facing discriminatory discipline proceedings. In partnership with Latino Network, OLC created a packet of information to help families plan temporary custody of their children and obtain vital documents. OLC Staff have also provided recent trainings, discussion, and education programs on new laws and orders that could change federal immigration enforcement for the community and for specific clients.
ROSEBURG SERVICE AREA
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, non-permitted and unsafe gas heat, leaky roofs, floors with unsafe holes, and homes with inadequate sewage systems. 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.
Oregon’s Farmworker Programs represent migrant and seasonal agricultural workers on priority areas set by the communities; currently, those include employment, housing, occupational health and safety, and individual rights. The programs work with clients to improve access to justice for all by addressing very basic needs such as bringing home earned wages, shelter for families, and clean drinking water at worksites. Staff members also work with other agencies to improve the lives of workers throughout our communities statewide.
The Native American Program of Legal Aid Services of Oregon (NAPOLS) has started an Indian Estate Planning Project. They just finished their second summer supervising two law student interns through Seattle University’s Institute for Indian Estate Planning & Probate. NAPOLS and the interns provided estate planning services, including wills and advance directives, for over 70 tribal members at the Warm Springs, Burns Paiute, and Umatilla Indian Reservations. This spring, PSU Graduate Student Jonathan Lewis helped NAPOLS complete a comprehensive needs assessment to identify the most pressing legal needs of low-income tribal members in Oregon. Based on the results of this study, NAPOLS currently prioritizes helping low-income Indian tribes, Native organizations, and tribal members with the following issues: tribal court enhancement (access to justice in and the development of tribal courts), Indian trust land and resources, tribal sovereignty and organizational development, and access to opportunities and benefits (including public benefits, tribal enrollment, and expungement cases).