From Pam Hoekwater, Executive Director
January is a data month at LAWM. We collect, collate, compile, configure…you get the point…all types of statistics. We report data to funders, and we use data ourselves to determine what we do well and what we should change to better serve clients.

2020 may just go down as an anomaly – a year we can’t measure against any other. But when I look at our numbers, they tell one story that is not anomalous: our funders, our staff, and our partner organizations went above and beyond to meet increased client demand. Our January newsletter’s By the Numbers section showed the outcomes we achieved for clients. This month I was struck at how our staff produced these results even while facing a huge increase in client need.

As always, this quantitative data produces a qualitative reaction in me: I am blown away by our staff’s resilience, grateful for supporters who empower our work, and re-determined to keep fighting for our clients. Thank you!  
In this issue:
  • Client Story: When a senior’s home became unsafe, Legal Aid acted
  • By the Numbers: Housing intake skyrockets
  • Happening Now:
  • Our January community education program is free online
  • Tax season - new resources for taxpayers
  • From the Board: Waldridge Witherspoon on why he serves
  • From the Staff: Brooke Wilsner plays “Read/Watch/Listen”
Client story: Safe, Habitable Housing for a Low-Income Senior
Our laws are meant to protect everyone, no matter how much money or power they have. But many seniors and people who live in poverty struggle to assert their rights without help. The legal system is complex, and when there is a power imbalance between parties, the most vulnerable people and families suffer. This is where legal aid advocates and pro bono attorneys play crucial roles—balancing the scales, and ensuring that everyone gets treated fairly.

Our recent client, Doris (pseudonym), is a senior whose home is in a subsidized housing complex. She lives on Social Security Retirement. When a trespasser broke the windows of her ground-floor apartment, the complex’s management completely boarded up all of the windows, and made no effort to replace them.

Doris came to us when the situation was intolerable, and when she and some of her neighbors were traumatized by the poor treatment they’d gotten. We asserted Doris’s rights under Michigan’s Anti-Lockout Statute, which protects a tenant’s rights to live in their home without such drastic changes as windows being left boarded up. The building’s management complied with a court orderreplacing all of the broken windows and compensating our client under the terms of the law.

That’s the power of legal aid—giving clients a voice and guaranteeing fair treatment in our justice system.
By the Numbers
Our housing intake skyrocketed by 83% during the height of COVID:

  • From 1,400 requests, July 1 - December 31, 2019
  • To 2,561 requests, July 1 - December 31, 2020

Want to help keep vulnerable people and families in their homes? 
Thank you!
Happening Now
From the Board
Waldridge Witherspoon has served on LAWM’s Board of Directors since 2018, and before that served on the board at Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, one of our sister programs in Illinois.

“Years ago, legal aid helped me when I was in a dark place. I resolved to give back. Nowadays, I serve as a board member and connect other people in need to legal aid’s help. Jesus said, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ To me, that is not just about life and death, but about choosing to serve others during our lifetimes. My soul feels strongest and most refreshed when I serve other people who need help the most.”
Staff Spotlight: Brooke Plays "Read/Watch/Listen"
Every gift, any size, changes lives. Thank you!