Letter from the Editors

The Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy published Volume 28 in a period of tremendous grief, political chaos, and general uncertainty. COVID-19 has highlighted the prevalence of extreme poverty and its intersection with every aspect of life.[1] In the past year the need for a civil right to counsel in housing court and beyond and the expansion of the eviction crisis continues to gain attention.[2] The interwoven histories of this nation’s founding and American chattel slavery,[3] as well as the ever present need to secure protect the right to vote[4] have become even more salient, particularly after the 2020 Presidential Election and subsequent Capitol riot.[5] The powerful, yet devastating, stories of people across the world[6] who are living through this moment in history provide an important reality check that may help to inform carefully crafted policies moving forward.

Against this backdrop, Issue II encourages readers to consider important questions and potential solutions. While discussing a civil right to counsel, citizenship, voting rights, and unclaimed tax credits disproportionally impact the lives of people experiencing poverty, Issue II includes a mix of narratives, statistics, and analyses to remind readers of what remains at stake in this work: human lives. Poverty law and/or policy dictates real-life outcomes, such as a person’s ability to live in safe housing, register to vote, or access federal benefits. It is our hope that this Issue provokes dialogue and directs readers to respond to the fight against poverty in more meaningful ways.


[1]. See Brian Root & Lena Simet, United States: Pandemic Impact on People in Poverty: Current System Leaves Needs Unmet; Lasting Reforms Needed, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (Mar. 2, 2021, 6:00 AM), https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/02/united-states-pandemic-impact-people-poverty#.

[2]. See Emily Benfer, How Tenants’ Right to Counsel Can End Inequality in the Eviction System—And Save Lives, APPEAL (Mar. 10, 2021), https://theappeal.org/how-tenants-right-to-counsel-can-end-inequality-in-the-eviction-system-and-save-lives/; John Pollock & Meghan Steenburgh, The Pursuit of a Civil Right to Counsel, LEGAL TALK NETWORK (Mar. 31, 2021), https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/aba-law-student-podcast/2021/03/the-pursuit-of-a-civil-right-to-counsel/.

[3]. DeNeen L. Brown, ‘Uncomfortable Truth’: The New Push for a Slavery Reparations Commission in Congress, WASH.POST (Feb. 10, 2021, 5:40 PM EST), https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2021/02/10/reparations-slavery-congress-hearing-commission/.

[4]. See Ronald Newman, If the Biden Administration Is Serious About Protecting Voting Rights, Here’s What It Should Do Immediately, TIME (Feb. 22, 2021, 1:37 PM EST), https://time.com/5941547/voting-rights-joe-biden/.

[5]. See Shelly Tan, Youjin Shin, & Danielle Rindler, How One of America’s Ugliest Days Unraveled Inside and Outside the Capitol, WASH.POST (Jan. 9, 2021), https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/interactive/2021/capitol-insurrection-visual-timeline/; How the 1619 Project Took Over 2020, WASH.POST (Oct. 13, 2020, 12:00 PM ET), https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/1619-project-took-over-2020-inside-story/2020/10/13/af537092-00df-11eb-897d-3a6201d6643f_story.html.

[6]. See One Year Into the COVID-10 Pandemic, Six Stories that Inspire Hope, WORLD BANK (Mar. 10, 2021), https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2021/03/10/one-year-into-the-covid-19-pandemic-six-stories-that-inspire-hope; Stories from the Global COVID-19 Pandemic, STORYCENTER, https://www.storycenter.org/covid-stories (last visited May 28, 2021).