Poverty & Legal Issues

By | June 11, 2011

Legal problems don’t exist in a vacuum. Even in the most expensive lawsuits between multinational corporations over the most obscure minutiae, there is latent context that not everyone sees. There are personalities to deal with, cultural differences, competing concerns, etc.

For the women we serve living in poverty, this is very true as well. There might be a landlord tenant issue that brings a woman to one of our clinics, but she also has other concerns. The landlord might be a powerful member of the community or even a family friend that she doesn’t want to insult. She definitely has financial concerns and is probably living paycheck to paycheck, and unable to save for another first month’s rent, so she can’t just move out. Time is very difficult to manage, as she can’t miss work to deal with the problems, nor can she find childcare. There could be domestic violence or secret health issues that also influence her decisions, and she may be hesitant to talk about them with an attorney or other potential advocates.

Poverty isn’t just about not having money. There are many collateral issues that attach. Lack of perceived power, lack of actual power, lack of education, lack of time- there’s no lacking of lack. For this reason, our approach to legal issues is more holistic. We understand that it’s inevitably more complicated from the inside than it seems. However difficult, we don’t believe that’s a reason to lose hope. We strive to be an ally to women battling poverty.