LOS ANGELES, Oct. 5, 2015 - Compton Mayor Aja Brown, along with the city council, will honor Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles for its work providing Prop 47 relief and record expungements at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Accepting the honor will be LAFLA managing attorney Yolanda Arias, who heads LAFLA’s work in government benefits and in removing employment barriers, and Stephanie Lin, Dehsong Matheu and Kevin Reyes, who are all Equal Justice Works Americorps Legal Fellows working specifically on Prop 47 and expungements. Brown and the city council will also recognize Crossroads United Methodist Church, Southwestern Law School, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Charles Gibson Ministries, and The Myriad Group.
Lin, Matheu and Reyes, along with Karen Henry of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, led the legal services at the Fresh Start Expungement Clinics, two public events in August. The clinics, held at Crossroads United Methodist Church, helped 65 people with 71 expungements and 14 Prop 47 petitions.
“Getting a criminal record expunged or a felony reduced is the first step toward a fresh beginning and opens the door to increased employment and advancement opportunities,” Arias said.
LAFLA’s Prop 47 work and its work on expungements is part of its larger effort to remove barriers to employment and housing; barriers that can often continue the cycle of poverty.
A felony conviction, no matter how low-level, can often mean an automatic "no" when it comes to hiring. This Sunday at Exposition Park, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) will help to remove this roadblock for those eligible for expungements or relief under Prop 47.
A record expungement means a new life - and the ability to get a good, stable job and decent housing. Prop 47, which was passed by California voters last November gave relief, meaning certain non-violent, low-level felony convictions could be reduced to misdemeanors.
"This fair represents an opportunity for people to clean up their criminal records and get a fresh start in life," said Yolanda Arias, head of the Economic Stability Work Group at LAFLA, one of the groups providing legal services at the event. LAFLA has a team of three attorneys working specifically on Prop 47 petitions and record expungements. LAFLA has been at the forefront of removing barriers to employment, including record expungement. Clients have been able to seek and obtain employment free of these barriers which have enabled them to provide for their families and lead productive lives.
Seniors and people with disabilities who live in federal housing enjoyed a major victory this week. In an eviction appeal case, the LA Superior Court Appellate Division affirmed the need for a 30-day notice for move out, rather than the shorter period historically given to these vulnerable tenants.
In 2010, United States veteran Charles Leverett moved into federally subsidized housing for the elderly or disabled in Long Beach. He had lived there for four years when he got a notice on his door giving him 10 days to move out, or the landlord would take him to court to try to evict him. He was 76 years old at the time.
Mr. Leverett had no idea where he was going to move on such short notice. He did not have many options, and his only source of income was his Social Security benefits. Desperate, he called Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.