Media coverage has increased regarding the poor being unable to get out from under legal financial obligations. For various examples, go to columbialegal.org/modern-day-debtors-prisons-washington.
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Northwest Justice Project did an extensive strategic planning process a few years ago. One targeted strategy was statewide advocacy on legal issues affecting/creating barriers to employment. In this region, with unemployment rates still nearing the top of the list, we know this IS a systemic problem.
If you have not experienced it, witnessed it, lived with it, been related to it, known a victim/survivor—you must live on the moon. I’m not overstating—child abuse is pandemic.
I sporadically observe local court dockets as part of my job. It is remarkable how often litigants undermine their cases by their courtroom decorum. I have written on this topic before, but clearly, every couple of years this topic is worth revisiting. I have recently been attending juvenile court pretty regularly; and frankly, the adults are often worse than the youth. Adults are texting on their phones; showing up in sweats looking like they just rolled out of bed, chewing gum, etc.
Medical debt can be overwhelming. If you are (or were) uninsured or underinsured, you may be one of those people who stack unopened medical bills on the table by the front door (or in a shoe box under the bed or “file” them in the garbage can).
For those of you itemizing tax-deductible donations, be sure to check the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website at http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/ to confirm the entity to which you donate is in good standing. A law was changed in 2006-2007 requiring smaller tax-exempt entities to start submitting annual reports by 2009-2010. Notwithstanding outreach reminding these tax-exempt entities to start submitting these reports, many failed to do so and their tax exempt status has been revoked. Many revocations occurred quite some time ago and entities do not realize it has occurred and are continuing to accept donations that are no longer tax-deductible.
Whether you are an opponent or proponent of the Affordable Care Act, it is rolling out; albeit at best, clumsily. For those of you starting to explore this new health insurance landscape, Northwest Justice Project and its legal services partners have a statewide taskforce of advocates looking at many aspects of the new law, including the programs it is supposed to provide, the benefits and burdens it is creating and what rights citizens may have vis-à-vis these new programs. One thing is clear, we are all on (and likely will remain for some time) a steep learning curve.