How we’re protecting seniors

Lillie was almost evicted from her retirement home.

Lillie’s caretaker was stealing and pocketing her rent money. She let food rot in Lillie’s fridge, and Lillie would at times go days without eating. When Lillie’s family discovered what was going on, they feared it may be too late. 

Lillie’s cousin came to Open Door Legal. We fought Lillie’s eviction, got all of her money back, and made sure she had a new caretaker. Now, Lillie’s family can rest easy knowing she is safe and happy. 

The problem

Low-income seniors are often taken advantage of by bad actors. Because there is no guarantee of help, many end up losing assets, homes, and security.

 

Our solution

Provide universal access to legal help for seniors in need.

Low-income seniors face shocking rates of elder abuse

According to researchers at the national institute of health, about 10% of seniors experience elder abuse. But low-income seniors of color? Over 40% experienced elder abuse.¹ 

Along with our elder abuse casework, Open Door Legal is also the only non-profit in the city that provides estate plans to low-income residents. Because many of our elderly clients are asset rich but cash poor, estate plans are a profoundly effective way to build generational wealth.²  

%

Percentage of low-income seniors of color who have experienced elder abuse

Help more families like Lillie’s

Meet our elder law clients

Read more elder law stories here.

 

 

 

 

 

Teresita’s Story

 

 

 

Natasha’s Story

 

 

 

 

Donna’s Story

Our elder law outcomes

Learn more about our outcomes here.

Thousand dollars in awards

Estate plans drafted

Clients served

CITATIONS

1. NIH, Determining Prevalence and Correlates of Elder Abuse Using Promotores: Low Income Immigrant Latinos Report High Rates of Abuse and Neglect
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3396729/

2. Black Enterprise, Lack of Estate Planning Puts Black Wealth at Risk, Earl G. Graves, Sr. https://www.blackenterprise.com/lack-of-estate-planning-puts-black-wealth-at-risk/

CITATIONS

1. American University, Key Studies and Data About How Legal Aid Improves Housing Outcomes https://www.american.edu/spa/jpo/toolkit/upload/housing-7-30-19.pdf

2. George Washington Law School, In Pursuit of Justice? Case Outcomes and the Delivery of Unbundled Legal Services https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi

Ever since childhood, our co-founder Adrian has been dedicated to reducing poverty.

He studied systemic poverty in college and went to work in the field for a few years. Eventually, he had a thesis that legal aid was the most cost-effective way to address poverty in America. He wrote up a business plan and used it to apply to law school. 

The idea was to create the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation that ensures everyone can obtain timely, competent legal help for any legal issue, regardless of ability to pay. That had never been done before in the history of the United States.

In law school, he met Virginia, our Programs Director. Together, they co-founded the organization, two weeks after Adrian passed the bar.

When we opened we put a sign in the window, and with just that marketing and almost no other outreach we were overwhelmed with requests for help from people with good cases who had been turned away everywhere else.

Our first year we had revenue of $35,000. We would hand shred documents because a shredder was too expensive. Despite the financial challenges, we were able to work on over 280 cases in everything from housing law to family law to consumer law in the first year alone.

The hours were extreme, the pay was low, and the learning curve was steep. Still, we persisted. We knew that almost everyone we helped was not able to receive services anywhere else. Eventually, we attracted the interest of funders. We tripled our revenue for several years in a row. In 2015, we won the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, which enabled us to expand even more. In 2019, we secured additional funding from the city that allowed us to open two new centers in the Excelsior and Western Addition.

As of 2020, our staff has grown to 27 full-time employees. We’ve shown that universal access is possible. Now, we plan to scale city-wide, make San Francisco the first city in the country’s history to have universal access to legal help, and become a model for national replication.