The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced awards totaling $1 million in grant funding from the Heirs Property Assistance Program to assist low-income individuals or households in the District with obtaining clear legal title of real estate upon the death of their family member.
“The selection of these grantees provides a path for low-income families to keep their homes within the family,” said DHCD Director Colleen Green. “The term ‘generational wealth’ is used quite often, but the work of obtaining clear and legal title to a property through the courts can be challenging for someone who is unfamiliar with the probate process. The service provided by these grantees can help make a complex process a bit easier to navigate.”
In February, DHCD released a notice of funding availability (NOFA) for grantees who demonstrated an understanding of the unique challenges heirs encounter when dealing with a property in probate.
Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE), a nonprofit organization that offers legal support to the elderly, and DC Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), a nonprofit offering legal assistance in areas of family law, immigration and probate, were each awarded $500,000 grants.
“When older adults are living in homes titled in their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents’ names, they are ineligible for many city benefits – including those that can help avoid foreclosure,” said Rhonda Cunningham Holmes, Executive Director for Legal Counsel for the Elderly. “We are grateful to DHCD for its support that will enable us to provide probate and estate services for even more of our low-income neighbors, resolving issues that otherwise could put their homes in jeopardy and prevent passing intergenerational wealth through their most valuable asset.”
Some key resources grantees will provide to eligible heirs include access to legal representation and technical assistance for handling their probate matters.
“The probate clients we serve are often navigating a multitude of challenges – grief and loss, a technical and tedious legal process, and unfamiliarity with the steps required to ensure cherished family homes are conveyed properly and shielded from tax sales or foreclosure,” said DCALF Executive Director Gabby Mulnick Majewski. “Through this grant, we are committed to dismantling information barriers, establishing new partnerships with community stakeholders to enhance accessibility, and bridging this critical justice gap through our provision of free legal assistance to residents seeking clear title to DC properties.”
The Heirs Property Assistance Program will be eligible to low-income households or individuals who have a potential legal claim to residential real estate in the District of Columbia that is already in probate or otherwise does not have a clear legal title as the result of the death of a former owner.
Applicants need to be current District residents or make a formal commitment to reside in the residential real property that is part of the estate in the District of Columbia after probate is completed; or to use the proceeds of the sale of the assets for the benefit of District residents.
The program starts Monday, October 2. Prospective clients can reach out to DC Affordable Law Firm at (202) 844-5430 or complete the online intake form at www.dcaffordablelaw.org or Legal Counsel for the Elderly’s hotline at (202) 434-2120.