2020

Annual Report

Fighting for justice, equity, and hope for people living in poverty throughout Greater Los Angeles.

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

Earlier this year, we were on the brink of a return to normalcy: the habits and routines which characterized our pre-COVID life. As we learned and experienced this past year, life can change quickly. But “normalcy” is and always has been elusive for many Americans who live in poverty; and especially now for those whose lives are forever altered because of the pandemic. We see the impacts close to home in Los Angeles County, where hundreds of thousands of renters and their family members risk losing their homes when tenant protections expire; millions have been unable to afford basic necessities, including food and housing, because they lost their jobs; and thousands have endured domestic violence at the hands of abusive partners with whom they quarantined.

Silvia R. Argueta
Executive Director

Michael Maddigan
President, LAFLA Board 2020-2022

SERVICES

Provides housing rights information and direct representation for individuals facing eviction. Eviction Defense Center (EDC) prevents housing-subsidy residents and Section 8 voucher holders from losing their housing and/or subsidies and preserves Rent Stabilized Ordinance (RSO) tenancies — as well as prevents RSO violations. Also, EDC helps clients living in uninhabitable conditions get repairs or reductions in rent. This workgroup also includes our new grant through Stay Housed L.A. bringing much-needed eviction defense resources to tenants in Los Angeles County Communities and may be the first steps towards a “Right to Counsel” for tenant eviction defense.

Helps and represents survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in obtaining restraining orders, and orders for custody, dissolution, visitation, and support. It also assists and represents undocumented survivors of domestic violence, torture, human trafficking, and other serious abuse in removal proceedings and before USCIS; and helps and represents individuals before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to become U.S. Citizens. Within this project, we have established a Torture Survivors Project providing legal assistance, representation, and community education to immigrants who are victims of torture.
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles upholds the rights of employees to earn a fair wage, work in a respectful environment, and receive the benefits to which they are entitled. We ensure low-income workers are treated with dignity and are able to provide for themselves and their families.
Prevents unfair displacement and preserves and expands affordable housing. It also defends the rights of unhoused individuals and families and provides legal support to community-based organizations seeking to build healthy, economically vibrant communities.
Assist individuals who represent themselves (regardless of income or immigration status); and offers legal information, help with preparing court forms, and guidance on a variety of civil legal matters. They also provide referrals to private attorneys or legal services programs as needed.

Provides linguistically accessible, culturally intelligent, trauma-informed help to API clients in their preferred language, with access to all LAFLA services. 

Provide patients with access to all LAFLA services — focusing on legal issues that can negatively impact the health of patients, such as poor housing conditions, loss or denial of public benefits, and violence within the home.
Advocates on behalf of Veterans to help them obtain life-sustaining income, health, and housing benefits; dismiss tickets and expunge convictions to give Veterans a fresh start; upgrade unjust less-than-honorable military discharges; and prevent Veteran homelessness.
Provides legal services to households facing homelessness and/or imminent eviction, as well as unhoused individuals and families, in the South Bay/ Harbor area and southeast Los Angeles County.
Serving the needs of the Santa Monica client community, especially in the areas of housing and homelessness, tenant harassment, and domestic violence.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

LAUNCH OF STAY HOUSED L.A.

A new county-wide coalition, Stay Housed L.A., launched in fall 2020 to fight wrongful evictions and empower tenants to exercise their rights. LAFLA is the lead legal services provider, working in partnership with nine legal services partners and 16 community-based organizations. Stay Housed L.A. quickly became a lifeline for tenants whose landlords continue to harass and try to evict them, despite COVID- related tenant protections.

MEDICAL-LEGAL PARTNERSHIPS EXPAND

LAFLA’s medical-legal partnerships expanded with the opening of our clinic at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. The pandemic forced our services to go remote, yet our staff continued to help patients with legal problems impacting their health. LAFLA has a longstanding history with Rancho Los Amigos: More than 15 years ago, LAFLA (led by Executive Director Silvia Argueta, then a staff attorney; Managing Attorney Yolanda Arias; and Senior Attorney Elena Ackel of the Economic Stability Workgroup) and other advocacy groups successfully sued to keep the Rehabilitation Center open, after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors threatened its closure to save costs.

VICTORY FOR CALFRESH RECIPIENTS
Ortega v. Johnson
LAFLA and our partners scored a major victory for CalFresh recipients: The California Court of Appeal ruled that the Department of Social Services must replace CalFresh benefits when they are electronically stolen. The decision in Esther Ortega et al., v. Kimberley Johnson, et al. reverses a trial court decision that said the state is not responsible for replacing stolen benefits, among other provisions. Our plaintiffs, Esther Ortega and Joe Soza, experienced the electronic theft of their CalFresh benefits, draining nearly their entire monthly allotments for food. This victory underscores the need for greater protections for those facing food insecurity — an issue exacerbated by the pandemic.
DEFENDING THOSE FACING HOMELESSNESS
GARCIA V. CITY OF LOS ANGELES

Our legal team continued to successfully fight for the rights of people experiencing homelessness in the City of Los Angeles. In April 2020, a federal judge ordered the City to stop enforcing parts of Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 56.11 that allowed City crews to seize and immediately destroy the belongings of unhoused residents, based on the belongings’ size. LAFLA, along with pro bono counsel on behalf of several unhoused plaintiffs and a partner organization, sued the City in 2019 — challenging the constitutionality of the code. Our lawsuit, Janet Garcia, et al., v. City of Los Angeles, et al., aims to prevent the City from being able to discard unhoused residents’ belongings, many of which they need to survive.

KEEPING TENANTS IN THEIR HOMES
THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC

LAFLA successfully fought for policies that are keeping tenants safe, healthy, and in their homes throughout the pandemic. In Long Beach, the LAFLA team advocated for and won passage of a COVID eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent for residential and commercial tenants, among other protections. Long Beach was the first jurisdiction in Los Angeles County to adopt such a policy. We also advocated for a similar policy with the County, which led to the expansion of its moratorium (to include incorporated cities) and the broadening of its terms. Additionally, our team won the passage of a tenant anti-harassment ordinance in Long Beach, which makes it illegal for landlords to harass tenants — of which there has been an increase during the pandemic. Other cities, including Inglewood and Los Angeles, have since followed suit with their own tenant anti- harassment ordinances.

PROTECTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS
The pandemic’s stay-at-home orders forced many domestic violence survivors to quarantine in close quarters with their abusers. This exacerbated existing abusive dynamics, cut off usual points for information and support, and left survivors with more harm and less avenues for relief. In response, LAFLA launched a domestic violence hotline and worked with community partners to pilot a remote hearing studio for survivors, to meet survivors where they are. By phone and Zoom, LAFLA staffers can safely assist survivors with domestic violence restraining order applications and help navigate the court’s remote options. The remote hearing studio also provides survivors who lack reliable technology or internet connections a safe, supportive, and private space in which to appear virtually for restraining order hearings. Through this collaborative effort with other advocacy organizations and agencies, LAFLA aims to provide safe spaces for survivors, promote public health, and facilitate access to remote hearings, so survivors do not have to face their abusers in person.
HELPING DRIVERS WITH SUSPENDED
LICENSES DURING PANDEMIC

At the start of the pandemic, the Los Angeles County Superior Court postponed all traffic infraction matters. This troubled our re-entry team whose clients with suspended drivers’ licenses needed to access traffic court to lift those holds. During the pandemic, many of our clients relied on their cars to get to work (as essential workers who could not work from home) – and some relied on their cars for shelter while COVID spread. With input from our partners across the state, LAFLA proposed the Court implement temporary remote methods for lifting license suspensions, highlighting the disproportionate burden that low-income litigants face. The Court responded with a 90-day grace period on all traffic infraction tickets, as well as a streamlined phone system to get relief for driver’s license holds. However, there were issues with the Court’s response, including lengthy call wait times; it also publicized incorrect contact information. Our team and partners continued to press the Court for alternative ways to help impacted drivers. The Court created several new remote options for automatically accessing relief for driver’s license holds. It also permitted those with debt in collections to contact traffic court clerks directly, and republished accurate contact numbers.

VOLUNTEERING REMOTELY
SERVING OUR COMMUNITIES IN THEIR TIME OF NEED

In 2020, LAFLA’s pro bono projects engaged more than 900 volunteers made up of attorneys, law students, undergraduate students, interpreters, community volunteers, and many others. These volunteers contributed more than 25,000 hours, valued at more than $10 million, to help expand LAFLA’s services to help meet the legal needs of the community. During the pandemic, pro bono volunteers went out of their way to represent tenants facing homelessness, domestic violence survivors trapped with their abusers, former foster youth seeking naturalization, previously incarcerated individuals hoping to clear their records, and many others. Also, LAFLA hosted more than 70 remote, volunteer-led legal clinics to serve the community while in-person clinics were suspended. LAFLA is so grateful to be able to call upon its many supportive pro bono partners during times of need.

2020 IMPACT

# of people who qualify for LAFLA services:
0

 million people Living in Poverty across LA County

Value of long-
and short-term
economic benefits
$ 0
,116,300

Calls handled through LAFLA's Call Center

0
0 +

LA County residents received legal help through LAFLA.

Veterans served
0
Percentage of cases that are housing-related
0 %
People helped through medical-legal partnerships
0
21% of clients have limited English proficiency
Clients
speak
19+
languages
72,500+ people helped at clinics, trainings, and outreach events

Who We Help

By Race/Ethnicity

BY GENDER

By Legal Issue

Client Stories

Medical-Legal Partnership Reinstates Benefits for Stroke Survivor

“I never had anybody stick up for me like [my attorney] Andrew did. I’d been down for so long, but now I have the comfort of someone who has my back."

LAFLA and Pro Bono Partner Keep Family Housed During Pandemic

“After receiving help from the legal dream team, it shows me there are still people who really want to help us Angelenos.”

API Community Outreach Project Helps Korean Immigrant and Children Escape Abusive Husband

“It has not been easy, but I believe in myself, and I believe I am strong.”

Financials

Revenue & Support

Income Total: $35,156,583
0%
Government Contracts: $18,021,268
0%
Misc. Contracts: $15,238,344
0%
Grants & Contributions: $1,185,787
0%
Special Events: $711,184
0%

Expenses

Expenses Total: $22,789,141
0%
Program: $17,781,141
0%
Support: $4,510,806
0%
Fundraising: $497,194 
0%

DONATED SERVICES

Expenses, revenue, & support: $10,095,443
0%

Thank You

AT&T Foundation
City Fabrick
Consulado General of Mexico
Equal Justice America, Inc.
Harvard University
LA Care Health Plan
Liberty Hill Foundation
Lucky Seven Foundation
R.J. and D.A. Munzer Foundation
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom Fellowship Foundation
Sullivan & Cromwell Foundation
The California Community Foundation
The California Endowment
The Children’s Clinic
The Durfee Foundation
The Elks of Los Angeles Foundation/Los Angeles Lee Linden Foundation
The Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
The Rose Hills Foundation
The Steptoe Foundation
University of California, Los Angeles
USC Fellowships
Venable Foundation, Inc.
W.M. Keck Foundation

ANGEL

Munger, Tolles & Olson 

GUARDIAN ANGEL

Latham & Watkins
Morgan Lewis

GUARDIAN

Gibson Dunn
Kirkland & Ellis
O’Melveny
Quinn Emanuel
Sheppard Mullin

ADVOCATE

City National Bank
Jenner
Loeb & Loeb
Orrick
Cheryl & Haim Saban
TM Financial Forensics, LLC
Universal Music Group

PATRON

AT&T
Edison International
Debra Fischer & Sherwin Frey
Fox Corporation
Gelfand Rennert & Feldman
Hogan Lovells
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Moldex-Metric
Northrop Grumman
Nossaman
Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP
Proskauer
Sullivan & Cromwell
Susman Godfrey
Rita Tuzon & Rick Stone

PARTNER

Akin Gump
Elizabeth & Jim Burgess
Covington
EPIC Brokers
Foley & Lardner LLP
Greenberg Glusker
IOA Insurance Services
JAMS
Jones Day
Mayer Brown
Morrison & Foerster
Pasich LLP
Paul Hastings
Reed Smith
Tom Rothman
David Sagal
Seyfarth Shaw
Signature Resolution
Spertus, Landes & Umhofer, LLP
Martin & Karen Tachiki
Jeffrey Taylor
TELACU
Venable

PRESIDENT

Michael Maddigan

VICE PRESIDENT

Amy Lerner Hill

SECRETARY

Amber S. Finch

TREASURER

R. Alexander Pilmer

COMMUNITY COMMITTEE CHAIR

C. Cleo Ray

COMMUNITY COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR

Patricia Vining

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Karen J. Adelseck 
Eric J. Bakewell
James M. Burgess
Wendy R. Cabil
Colin Cabral
Kyle Casazza
Sean A. Commons
Phyllis Coto
Carissa Coze
Sean Eskovitz
E. Martin Estrada
Joseph B. Farrell
Marc Feinstein
Debra L. Fischer
Felix Garcia
Silvia Hernandez
James E. Hornstein
Robert B. Hubbell
Lynette M. Jones
Zella Knight
Jason Linder
Clementina Lopez
John Maldonado
Louise Mbella
Virginia F. Milstead
Kevin J. Minnick
Phillip Mobley
Fanny Ortiz
Adam S. Paris
Joseph Paunovich
Craig O. Roberts
David Lewis Sagal
Kareen Sandoval
Kahn A. Scolnick
Marc M. Seltzer
Linus Shentu
Jeff A. Taylor
Ronald B. Turovsky
Brianne Wiese

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Earlier this year, we were on the brink of a return to normalcy: the habits and routines which characterized our pre-COVID life. As we learned and experienced this past year, life can change quickly. But “normalcy” is and always has been elusive for many Americans who live in poverty; and especially now for those whose lives are forever altered because of the pandemic. We see the impacts close to home in Los Angeles County, where hundreds of thousands of renters and their family members risk losing their homes when tenant protections expire; millions have been unable to afford basic necessities, including food and housing, because they lost their jobs; and thousands have endured domestic violence at the hands of abusive partners with whom they quarantined. In the wake of the protests, boycotts, and calls to dismantle systemic racism that erupted after George Floyd’s murder, the justice gap is more apparent than ever: Too many of our neighbors have suffered, largely a result of structural forces that have kept them out of power for centuries — our Black, Brown, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous communities. But the past year has also shown a collective move toward greater acknowledgment of these systemic failures, and action to finally address and correct these wrongs.

In Los Angeles County, LAFLA has always played a pivotal role in ensuring our clients and communities can access the legal services and resources that the privileged and powerful take for granted. During the pandemic, our staff has shown incredible resilience, flexibility, and compassion as we navigated the uncertainties throughout the pandemic. We advocated for residents facing wrongful eviction and landlord harassment, while tenant protections were supposed to keep them safe under their roofs; and we fought for the rights of our unhoused neighbors, who faced continuing threats to their well-being despite the spread of COVID. We ensured domestic violence survivors could escape from abusive partners and get a fresh start; and we connected those in poverty, many of whom had lost their jobs, with crucial government benefits to stay afloat, healthy and safe throughout the pandemic.

Our work would not be possible without the dedication of our partners, volunteers, and supporters — whose commitment to justice enabled LAFLA to reach clients and communities in every corner of Los Angeles County. We launched Stay Housed L.A. with nine legal services partners and 16 community-based organizations to keep tenants in their homes and educate our communities as the partnership’s lead legal services provider. We also hosted dozens of remote clinics led by volunteers, who contributed more than 25,000 hours of pro bono service.

Throughout our 2020 Annual Report, you will learn about the impact we made together. Mahatma Gandhi once stated, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” While there is much work to do to overturn systemic racism and discrimination, the positive differences we have made over the last year are testament to the power of collective good. This shared compassion and empathy drives us forward — so that access to justice is not a fleeting ideal, but rather normalcy for all members of our society, including our most vulnerable.

Silvia R. Argueta
Executive Director  

Michael Maddigan
President, LAFLA Board 2020-2022

Medical-Legal Partnership Reinstates Benefits for Stroke Survivor

“I never had anybody stick up for me like [my attorney] Andrew did. I’d been down for so long, but now I have the comfort of someone who has my back.”

Kisha had struggled in the year since suffering a debilitating stroke in 2019. “I had a job at a grocery store and a pretty normal life,” said Kisha, a single mother with a teenage daughter. After the stroke, she could no longer work and relied on government benefits for necessities, including rent and food.

One year later, in early 2020, Kisha’s State Disability Insurance (SDI) ran out — leaving her unable to pay her portion of the rent for her Section 8 tenancy. Simultaneously, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) informed Kisha they were investigating her for fraud, claiming she could not verify how she was paying her rent.

“Even though Kisha was trying to do all the right things to update benefits administrators about her situation, she was facing imminent eviction and a fraud investigation while struggling to put food on the table for her daughter,” said LAFLA Attorney Andrew Kazakes. “Navigating these systems is hard enough under normal circumstances. Doing so while struggling with impairments from a stroke — while having to keep track of the agency’s own mistakes and being unable to reach anybody to patiently sort things out — it verges on an impossible task.

Kisha receives treatment for her stroke at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, where LAFLA launched a medical-legal partnership (MLP) clinic in 2020. Patients with legal problems that impact their health receive referrals to the MLP. Kisha shared her situation with her social worker, who connected her with Andrew: “Because the MLP provides a model of holistic services, we were not only able to address Kisha’s individual issues, but also how those issues related to one another to make sure her situation was stabilized.”

Andrew determined the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) had failed to lower her rent after Kisha notified them her SDI had run out. He successfully advocated for HACLA to reduce Kisha’s rent to zero, and she received a refund for rent she had overpaid. Andrew then contacted DPSS, which cancelled its fraud investigation — that led to an increase in Kisha’s CalFresh (formerly called food stamp) benefits.

“I’m not as strong as I once was, and Andrew really made such a difference,” said Kisha. “For someone to come in and take over like that, it made things better. I can actually breathe again.

Andrew did not stop there. In late summer, Kisha received approval for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But Social Security told Kisha they were reducing her benefits (and retroactive award) because she receives child support. Andrew successfully fought for Social Security to restore her full SSI and issuance of a back payment. “Kisha knows that if another legal problem emerges, she has somewhere to turn for help,” said Andrew. “This in itself can be an important remedy for chronic stress.”

Kisha’s housing and benefits are now stable, and she has peace of mind while continuing to focus on her recovery. “I never had anybody stick up for me like Andrew did,” said Kisha. “I’d been down for so long, but now I have the comfort of someone who has my back. I feel like Andrew is part of my family.”

LAFLA and Pro Bono Partner Keep Family Housed During Pandemic

“After receiving help from the legal dream team, it shows me there are still people who really want to help us Angelenos.” 

Dennis nearly lost his home of more than 20 years at the height of the pandemic. His landlord had already tried to evict him once before COVID, after Dennis was unable to make rent — his new employer had failed to pay him on time. LAFLA intervened and negotiated a settlement that kept his family in their Inglewood apartment for several more months. Then the pandemic hit: Dennis lost his job as a set builder, and he and his family could not find a new place to live. 

In September 2020, Dennis came home to a Sheriff’s notice on his door, ordering his family to leave their unit. Dennis, a single father of two children, was given five days to pack their belongings and move. “It was a terrifying experience,” said Dennis. “It weighed on me mentally, having to leave my residence of 22 years — and attempting to find housing is very difficult, needing to prove a salary triple the amount of rent. I had run into many untrustworthy agencies who sent over fake application forms or were not able to show the locations. Trusting that I would be able to find another home was nerve-wracking.

According to LAFLA Attorney Sarah Khanghahi, a member of the Preventing and Ending Homelessness Program, “Dennis called me in a panic and explained his situation. We decided a Sheriff’s lockout in the middle of the pandemic would be a violation of the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order.” Earlier that month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued an unprecedented eviction mora torium, intended to prevent pandemic-affected renters from becoming unhoused — and curb the spread of COVID.

Dennis and Sarah rushed to court on an ex-parte (emergency) motion, arguing the new CDC order should be applied to halt the Sheriff’s lock-out. However, the judge was not convinced the CDC order applied to Dennis’ case. “After spending several hours arguing the technicalities of the order at our initial hearing, the judge was not inclined to rule in our favor,” said Sarah. “It was frustrating knowing that this national order would become effectively useless if not applied by the courts.

LAFLA partnered with pro bono counsel Michael Soloff, Partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, who helped prepare briefings and arguments on the applicability of the CDC order. With Michael’s help, Dennis’ legal team was able to negotiate a settlement that reinstated the family’s tenancy: “It was very satisfying to play a role in keeping a family in their longtime home – especially to keep our client and his children safely housed in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael.

Dennis and his family have since been able to remain in their home, where his children have been distance-learning and waiting out the pandemic. “After receiving help from the legal dream team, it shows me there are still people who really want to help us Angelenos,” said Dennis. “It puts trust back into our communities. My family and I would like to say thank you for everyone involved with helping us keep our home.”

API Community Outreach Project Helps Korean Immigrant and Children Escape Abusive Husband

“It has not been easy, but I believe in myself, and I believe I am strong.” 

Doyeon* sought a better life for herself and her two daughters. Her husband was abusive, constantly shouting, drinking, and fighting with her — yet the pandemic complicated her decision to leave.

“COVID-19 has been a huge obstacle for my clients, many of whom are survivors of domestic violence. The pandemic has amplified their struggles and caused them to make difficult decisions to keep themselves and their children safe, including staying with their abusers,” said Doyeon’s attorney, Skadden Fellow Healy Ko. “Doyeon felt compelled to live again with her husband for the sake of her children.”

Despite Doyeon’s hopes of improving her marriage, she decided to leave her husband for good after a particularly tumultuous argument. But she worried about living on her own with her two daughters — where they would live and how she would provide for them. Doyeon is a Korean immigrant; and while her husband is a lawful permanent resident, at the time Doyeon had no status and feared he might retaliate against her.

She had tried to break free once before, prior to the pandemic. During their separation, Doyeon gave birth to the couple’s child (she has a daughter from a previous relationship): “Raising two young children during COVID was incredibly hard. I worried that one of us might catch COVID,” she said. In spring 2020, she and her husband decided to reconcile and try to make their marriage work. They signed a lease for a new home together.

Later that year, Doyeon connected with LAFLA through its Asian Pacific Islander Community Outreach Project: “Providing culturally and linguistically appropriate legal and social services is so important because it helps bridge a gap between our clients and the legal system,” said Healy. “By providing culturally appropriate services, we are able to effectively communicate with the client, understand their full, nuanced story, build trust and rapport, and help clients access and navigate a complex and esoteric legal system.”

Doyeon took the first steps toward independence — working with Healy to file a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petition to start the path toward becoming a lawful permanent resident.

Next, Doyeon and Healy obtained the necessary information for her apartment building office to remove her name from the lease. Under California housing law, survivors of domestic violence can terminate their lease without penalty if they demonstrate their history of abuse. They were successful: The leasing manager agreed to release Doyeon’s name from all contractual obligations on the grounds of domestic violence.

“I am currently living as a single mom with my two daughters. I moved into a new apartment with my children, and we are trying to settle down. It has not been easy, but I believe in myself, and I believe I am strong. I am hopeful that things will get better soon.”

*Not her real name.

RESOLUTE IN THE FACE OF UNCERTAINTY

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As we write this, we find ourselves in unprecedented times: The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our community in many ways – the pandemic has laid bare the systemic racism that has resulted in the health disparities in the Black and Latinx community; the virus has brutally affected poor communities; the full extent of this inequality remains to be seen. There is now a national dialogue regarding racial justice and structural racism, with a force we have not seen in years: perhaps signaling a paradigm shift. The youth of this nation are leading this movement with their drive and demands for change. The work of economic justice and racial justice are separate, but intertwined; we are committed to addressing both.

We at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles remain resolute and hopeful in the face of uncertainty and hardship; and continue to meet the needs of our clients, who have suffered the most throughout the COVID crisis. The communities we serve had already possessed the fewest resources prior to the pandemic; now many have lost what little they did have. The need for civil legal aid – and equal justice – is stronger than ever.

Our history as the largest and longest-serving legal aid organization in California has bolstered our abilities to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and renewed our commitment to racial equality and the dismantling of sysems that promote racism. In 2019, we had the good fortune to celebrate our 90th anniversary, reflecting on other turbulent periods in our nation’s past, and our perseverance in overcoming these trials. 

We also had new reasons to celebrate: the Whole Person Care LA Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP), which includes LAFLA, received the National Impact Award from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership; the County opened its first Reentry Opportunity Center with LAFLA staff on the frontlines, providing legal services to those in the justice system; and our annual Access to Justice Dinner brought together more than 20 former LAFLA board presidents in celebration of our organization’s achievements and longstanding commitment to our community.

But most importantly, we honored the spirit of our clients in all that we did, and continue to do: Their strength, dignity, and resolve, in spite of the hardships they face, motivate our staff to fight harder to keep our clients housed; remove undue burdens such as overwhelming debt; prevent violence at the hands of abusive partners; and much more. In this annual report, you will read about how our staff helped clients in these very situations last year – and the other ways we helped more than 100,000 residents of Los Angeles County living in poverty.

The future may be unpredictable, but our commitment to serving the most vulnerable residents of Los Angeles County remains steadfast. We thank you for being a part of LAFLA’s mission over the last 90 years – and for your continued support as we begin to write the next chapter of our journey.

With gratitude,

Silvia R. Argueta
Executive Director  

James M. Burgess
President, LAFLA Board 2018-2020