Community Legal Worker

Detroit, MI

The Detroit Justice Center (DJC) seeks a Community Legal Worker who will help Detroiters avoid foreclosure. Our team of Community Legal Workers helps people stay in their homes by challenging unconstitutional property tax assessments.  Through advocacy and direct assistance, the Community Legal Worker helps to empower low-income community members and support their access to other quality-of-life programs and services, such as avoiding water shutoff.  

What Are Community Legal Workers?

Community Legal Workers are trained community members who will help Detroit residents understand, use, and shape the laws that affect them. Instead of turning to the traditional lawyer, DJC aims to place the law in the hands of the people to empower them to solve justice problems on their own. DJC will provide formal training for all Community Legal Workers so they are prepared to advise clients on the legal process and navigate government systems.

What are Unconstitutional Property Tax Assessments?

The Michigan Constitution states that no property may be assessed at more than 50% of its market value. However, 55 – 85% of properties were assessed at a rate in violation of the Constitution from 2009-2015. Lower income households are the most seriously impacted.  Detroit residents can appeal a property assessment to the Office of the Assessor, but the period for appeal is only February 1 – February 15, a very short time frame.  

DJC’s Community Legal Workers will assist community members in preparing their appeals, accompany clients to the Board, and provide guidance throughout the process. 

Job Duties:

  • Performing legal research and investigation into the tax assessment appeal process and other relevant systems

  • Compiling and comparing data in order to assess claims of overassessment or devise strategies for pursuing relief

  • Conducting outreach, including targeted neighborhood canvassing, phone banking and mailings, and attending community events, in order to educate the community about their rights to appeal their tax assessment and offer assistance 

  • Conducting client interviews

  • Visiting clients’ homes to document and photograph conditions

  • Helping clients complete forms 

  • Writing arguments supporting property tax assessment challenges or pursuing other relief or services

  • Appearing before the Board of Review or other tribunals and agencies, whether accompanied by the client or on the client’s behalf. 

Qualifications: 

  • Engaged member of the community, ideally with some knowledge of housing and foreclosure issues

  • Formal or informal skills in mediation, conflict resolution, and/or negotiation 

  • Community organizing skills and the desire to empower your community

  • Ability to communicate ideas to a broad audience

  • Willingness to develop working relationships with local government staff and officials

Compensation: $15/hour, 20 hours/week 

How to Apply: Please submit a resume and cover letter stating why you are interested in a Community Legal Worker position by October 4, 2019 to jobs@detroitjustice.org with the subject: “Community Legal Worker position.” Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please refrain from contacting the office to check on the status of your application.