What is VLNDC?

VLNDC is a network of legal service providers in DC that provide legal assistance to victims of crime in DC. The network provides victims of crime with access to more than 25 different legal service organizations that can provide legal help in a wide variety of issues including (but not limited to) family law, immigration, debt collection, housing, protection orders, and crime victims’ rights. When a victim contacts VLNDC, we strive to connect the victim to any member organizations that may be able to assist them with their pending legal needs. If the network cannot assist them, we provide the victim with other resources to explore.

VLNDC envisions a future where all crime victims in the District of Columbia can receive legal services for all of their civil and administrative legal needs, as well as victims’ rights representation in criminal cases.

How did VLNDC get started?

Findings from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) strategic planning initiative, Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report (Vision 21), strongly indicated a critical need for comprehensive, wraparound, no-cost legal services for victims of all crime types. Crime victims often have co-existing and overlapping legal needs that arise in connection with their victimization or are impacted by the victimization. Needed legal services connected to victimization may include representation in the enforcement of victims’ rights in criminal court, a wide range of civil legal assistance directly related to their victimization, immigration assistance, and representation for underserved crime types (i.e. financial fraud and identity theft).

In 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG) was one of four jurisdictions awarded funding by OVC to establish a victim-centered legal services continuum supporting holistic, wrap around, and pro bono legal services for all victims of crime in Washington, DC. OVSJG, in partnership with the Network for Victim Recovery of DC and three local legal service organizations–Amara Legal Center, Ayuda, and the Legal Aid Society of DC–established a network of legal service providers that would be able to respond to the gaps raised in Vision 21 for the DC community.

Over the first two phases of the project, these providers developed an implementation plan guiding the network referral process designed to increase access to legal services for those impacted by crime in the District. Once the plan was completed and approved, VLNDC became operational with six additional legal service organizations joining as network partners.

Learn about the other networks here.