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How can volunteer attorneys help turn vacant and blighted land into family homes with just a few hours of work?
VIP recently partnered with the Community Justice Land Trust (CJLT), a project of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project that restores vacant lots and holds the parcels in trust to ensure permanent affordability. Our October Volunteers of the Month, Reuben Asia and Adrian Ciacci of Faegre Drinker Biddle and Reath, volunteered to review real estate documents with the low-income Philadelphians who planned to purchase these homes.
With only a few hours of their time, Reuben and Adrian put six Philadelphians on the path to homeownership.
Reuben: “The end result was satisfying for everyone. There’s a difference between closing a loan for a big lender and helping someone purchase their first home.”
Adrian: “Right – we take great pride in our day-to-day work, but volunteering with VIP felt especially gratifying because our work was important to one particular person, rather than a diffuse group of people.”
Reuben: “It was exciting to help my clients, a couple who were both schoolteachers, prepare to own their first home.”
Adrian: “We hear ‘thank you’ a lot in the course of our work – but I think in the course of my two-hour meeting with one client, he said ‘thank you’ about a million times. He had earnest questions about his new home, and I was happy to help answer them.”
Reuben: “It was helpful that Adrian and I were able to team up through VIP. I don’t think we could have done it alone. Our firm is also very supportive of pro bono and has a good partnership with VIP.”
Adrian: “Ultimately, yes, we were busy, and there were other things we could have done with our time. But there’s a need for volunteer attorneys to do this work, and we had the requisite skills, so we were happy to help.”