“High Impact, Low Ego”
Those are the words Jacki Langum, director of advocacy for ArchCity Defenders, uses to describe the ethos of her agency. ArchCity Defenders is a non-profit civil rights law firm. Their clients do not pay for services. Jacki and her colleagues are passionate about protecting low income and African-American residents from unfair, abusive treatment at the hands of the court. As they help their clients work through an often punishing criminal justice system, they collaborate with partners throughout the community to help find housing, education even employment opportunities. “We don’t get hung up on who’s doing what”, she said. “We can’t do everything and collaborating ensures a better outcome for our clients.”
Jacki had a recent example. A woman had been illegally locked out of her apartment and called for help. ArchCity posted the issue on social media, and community activists converged at the apartment, pressuring the landlord so that he reversed his decision. But the apartment was operating illegally and ArchCity lawyers filed a lawsuit against the landlord. Activists on the scene took up a collection so the woman and her daughter could spend the night in a hotel. When ArchCity, working with other partners was able to place the woman in transitional housing, another social media posting resulted in donations of household items for the woman.
Arch City’s mission coincides with the foundation’s commitment to the poor and the marginalized, and the great value it places on collaboration. Jacki said funding from Incarnate Word is a tremendous boon for her agency. “We have to turn down cases regularly because of a lack of funding”, she said. “This allows us to extend our reach. And since the grant is unrestricted it allows us to help their client in whatever way they need”, Jacki said.