Battling Systemic Racial Injustice

June 16, 2020

By Al Schwartz, CARPLS Executive Director

For 27 years, we have battled injustice by helping low- and middle-income residents navigate their legal problems. Today, we are working harder than every to drive change in the face of systematic racism.

Friday, June 19, 2020, is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. We have always strived to understand the significance of this holiday and to translate it into our legal services by helping historically underserved neighborhoods in Cook County, but this year we have taken even greater stock of what it means to CARPLS.

Our society is rightfully outraged at the continuing injustices occurring in communities of color. Our communities are suffering. The tragic and horrific death of George Floyd serves as a stark reminder that racial inequity, civil rights violations, and unnecessary loss of human life continue to take place in our society. At CARPLS, we share feelings of outrage at these injustices and stand with those who demand that we must no longer accept the status quo. We want you to know that CARPLS stands with you as your advocate.

In a world without CARPLS, our clients will fall further through the cracks with severe implications such as homelessness, loss of income, and destabilized families. More than 45% of our clients earn less than 100% of the federal poverty guidelines, which is $12,760 for an individual and $26,200 for a family of four. 2/3 of CARPLS clients have never spoken to an attorney before calling us. They are overwhelmed with their legal problem at hand, often concerning housing, family or consumer law. CARPLS is the starting point and, if called early enough in the process, we can help them avoid significant troubles and potentially stay out of court. 85% of the time, CARPLS is the only legal resource available. 15% of the time, we can match clients to additional services in our partner network. CARPLS provided 63,000 legal consultations in FY19, a 14.5% increase over last year, with most services provided in high-need neighborhoods in Cook County.

We know that in times of real crisis, having the right legal information makes a difference, and we are proud to deliver that service. CARPLS focuses on serving as many people as possible, while maintaining a great level of care and service from a dedicated, experienced staff. Our top priority is breaking down barriers to legal help. Regardless of where you live in Chicago or what your situation is, all it takes is one call to receive help.

We know that our model is working, as 94.5% of our clients would refer others to CARPLS, but we always want to do more. Through our data analytics, we delve into the services our clients need in much greater depth, and we hope this will increase community conversation on how we can work together to ensure that no one faces their legal issue alone.

I encourage everyone to learn more about Juneteenth:

And thank you so much for your support of CARPLS. We are in this together.

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