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The day gives people a chance to clear court records of low-level crimes and offenses that can still block access to work and housing.

PMG FILE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Local residents gather inside the Rosewood Initiative in June 2018.As part of an ongoing effort in Multnomah County to help low-income people apply for jobs, attain housing and regain their driver's licenses, a free Legal Services Day will be held at the Rosewood Initiative in Gresham from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14.

The program was established in June 2017 and gives qualifying people a chance to clear their court records of relatively low-level crimes and offenses that can still block access to work and housing. Since the program began, more than $1.5 million in court fines and fees have been waived in exchange for 20,603 hours of community service.

"Legal Services Day allows people to pay off their fines and fees through community service. This important project allows vulnerable community members a way out of debt, removing a barrier to employment, steady housing, and more, while giving back to Multnomah County," said Cynthia Domingo-Forasté, chief of the Community Law Division with Metropolitan Public Defender.

Other participating organizations include the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office and Portland Community College, where such events also are held.

"We are grateful to the county, the Multnomah DA, PCC and the Rosewood Initiative for partnering with us to ensure that vulnerable people in our community are supported in their time of need," Domingo-Forasté said.

The non-profit Rosewood Initiative, at 16126 S.E. Stark St., will provide the Feb. 14 setting for people to meet with an attorney and earn a waiver of fines and fees they owe, if they show proof that they completed community service or treatment. Participants also can see if they're eligible to expunge old cases and address any outstanding warrants.

There are only 130 openings available for this event, so early registration is vital.

In addition, the following steps must be completed to meet all requirements:

Step 1: Call the Multnomah County Courthouse at 503-988-6279, Ext. 4 to find out how much you owe. Ask about traffic and parking tickets, too. If your license is suspended, call the state Department of Motor Vehicles at 503-299-9999 and ask what tickets are holding up your license.

Step 2: Do community service with a nonprofit or participate in treatment. Complete one hour for every $100 that you owe, up to 80 hours (all money is waived after 80 hours). Hours need to be completed before Legal Services Day.

Step 3: Ask the nonprofit you worked for or your treatment provider for a letter on letterhead with their contact information that says how many hours you completed and when.

Step 4: Call and register for Legal Services Day on Feb. 10. Operator will be answering calls as they come in and you will need to talk to a person to get on the list. Do not leave a message.

Step 5: Once you are registered, bring your letter to Legal Services Day. A judge will sign an order waiving your fines and fees after verification of your hours.

Step 6: Fees can take at least one month to be waived in the court system, so please be patient. Legal Services Day does not waive the $75 fee to get your license reinstated.

The last Legal Services Day was held at the Rosewood Initiative on Aug. 19, 2019. At that event, 177 people were screened and 146 appeared before a judge or had expungement paperwork completed and received legal screening, advice and services. Together, they had 736 cases, which were resolved. A total of $456,746 fines and fees were waived.

The Rosewood Initiative was chosen as the location for both events in part because of data about Multnomah County generated by a national project undertaken by the Economic Mobility Leadership Network. It is working with the National Equity Atlas to analyze demographic, income and other information about the residents of neighborhoods and census tracts across the country.

Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann has spearheaded the county's early involvement in the project, which shows the Rosewood Initiative is well located to service likely Legal Services Day participants.

Learn more

What: Legal Services Day

When: 12:30 to 5:00 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14

Where: The Rosewood Initiative, 16126 S.E. Stark St., Portland

How: Pre-registration required starting a 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, by calling 503-273-8236. Leaving messages won't count.

Requirements: Complete and document the required community service or treatment before attending.

Additional Legal Service Days for 2020 are:

Friday, March 13, PCC Cascade Campus

Friday, April 10, Rosewood Initiative

Friday, June 5, Rosewood Initiative

Friday, Aug. 14, Rosewood Initiative

Friday, Sept. 11, PCC Cascade Campus


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