A roof sags over broken windows. Strips of wood are missing from the rotting front porch. The sign on the door warns: Danger! Keep Out. In cities across the U.S., urban neighborhoods are struggling with an epidemic of vacant and abandoned buildings along with economic disinvestment and the quality-of-life, health and safety concerns that often accompany urban blight.
Legal Aid of Western Missouri
Kansas City, MO
Seven prominent law firms in Kansas City, MO
In 2015, Legal Aid of Western Missouri created the Adopt-A-Neighborhood Project, a groundbreaking initiative helping to transform seven distressed neighborhoods within Kansas City’s urban core into vibrant, thriving communities. The first program of its kind in the country, Adopt-A-Neighborhood provides access to pro bono legal services to individuals, neighborhood associations and other nonprofit organizations through a unique collaboration with seven of the city’s top private law firms.
This initiative is in keeping with Legal Aid’s primary mission to improve the lives of those in need through quality legal assistance. Founded in 1964, Legal Aid provides a range of free, holistic, civil (noncriminal) legal services designed to help clients with low incomes to access healthcare and public benefits; escape abuse and human trafficking; resolve immigration issues; access safe, stable housing; and spur community and economic development.
Members of Legal Aid’s staff provide training to help attorneys who volunteer for the Adopt-A-Neighborhood Project to handle community economic development cases. At the same time, Legal Aid provides legal education to neighborhood associations and other community members.
“The goal of the Adopt-A-Neighborhood Project is to help stabilize housing, return vacant properties to productive use and improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods,” said Kayla Hogan, the Adopt-A-Neighborhood Project Director. “It provides a clear example of how Legal Aid can partner with private law firms to provide a pathway for residential development, community revitalization and economic security for underserved communities and their residents. Based on the success of this in Kansas City, the project has been replicated in St. Louis and is being considered by other cities across the U.S.”
Cases opened to date on behalf of neighborhood associations and individuals in Kansas City’s urban core.
Pro bono hours of legal service committed to-date by program partners.
Volunteer attorneys from seven of Kansas City’s top law firms.
The Adopt-A-Neighborhood Project has empowered various neighborhood associations to take an active role in neighborhood improvement efforts. The end result of the project has been to help restore neighborhoods, attract new residents to the neighborhoods and address various neighborhood legal needs.”
R.B. Miller, III
Senior Counsel, Lathrop GPM LLP