The mission of Ohio State Legal Services Association, including the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, is to provide “legal aid and advocacy to combat unfairness and injustice and to help people rise out of poverty.” We know that to achieve our mission, we must remember the historical and structural racism that accounts for the fact that a disproportionate number of our clients are people of color as well as the current racism and violence that people of color in our community face each day.
Our program’s vision is of “a just and fair society where we all have the opportunity to thrive and have lives free of poverty.” We acknowledge that we cannot do that without correcting those structures of institutional racism.
While we as an organization and as individuals need to continually work to live up to our ideals, the vision, mission and work of OSLSA supports racial justice.
- * Our re-entry team helps with record sealing, drivers’ license reinstatement and Certificates of Qualification for Employment to help individuals re-entering the community after incarceration obtain employment.
- * Our education team focuses on racial disparities in school discipline and in training educators on the need to use trauma informed methods.
- * Our Neighborhood Stabilization efforts support four communities in Central Columbus and communities throughout Southeastern Ohio in community economic development efforts.
- * One of our Medical-Legal Partnerships works specifically to reduce the disparity in infant mortality rates for babies of color.
- * Our housing team helps to keep families housed while also working to increase the number of safe, affordable housing.
- * Our fair housing project works to ensure equal housing opportunities for all members of our community regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, family status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
- * Our domestic teams works to keep victims and survivors of domestic violence safe, while creating a path to independence from the abuser;
- * Our consumer team helps prevent foreclosures, relieves debt from individuals who are struggling through bankruptcy, and stops companies and creditors from using predatory methods.
- * Our health and benefits team ensure that individuals receive unemployment compensation, health care and food assistance when they are struggling.
- * Our tax team works to uphold taxpayer rights and to ensure that eligible workers access the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program that operates to help narrow income inequities based on race.
We stand in solidarity with our communities of color to combat injustice and unfairness and remain committed to providing civil legal services that help correct these longstanding inequities.