Letitia had just celebrated her 18th birthday when her entire family was arrested because her mother was selling drugs from the family’s apartment to support her own drug addition. Letitia was referred to Youth Represent after it was discovered that she was never assigned an attorney after her first court appearance. She was completely unaware that she was facing jail and eviction. Utilizing our unique model of wrap-around legal services, in which each young client is assigned to one attorney for all legal matters, Alison Wilkey our Senior Staff Attorney, represented Letitia in criminal court, in housing court, and at the New York City Housing Authority. We are happy to report that the charges against Letitia were dismissed and not only was her public housing reinstated, she is now the proud lease holder of her own apartment. Despite Letitia’s challenging circumstances, she graduated high school and she is on her way to college; with our help, she has made the successful journey from courtroom to community.
The obstacles facing our young clients are unimaginable. Court-involved youth can be denied jobs and evicted from public housing for low-level offenses. Additionally, zero tolerance policies in schools rely on suspension, expulsion, and arrest to deal with minor disciplinary problems. Thus, there are a daunting number of young people who have limited access to educational opportunities and who are unable to find safe housing or obtain employment.
Youth Represent is working hard to change this reality. Last year, your generosity enabled us to increase the number of children we serve. We are excited to report just a few of the concrete measures we have been able to advance because of your donations.
The individual stories of young people like Letitia demonstrate the vital need for our legal assistance in the many underserved neighborhoods in New York City. Therefore, we hope we can count on your support this year to continue our mission of working within the fabric of our communities to provide quality legal representation to one of our city’s most vulnerable populations.