Region 14 Assessment


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Region 14 Assessment

  1. 1. ATJ STATE PLAN REGIONAL ASSESSMENT TEMPLATE REGION 14 – PIERCE COUNTY I. PIERCE COUNTY REGIONAL PLANNING TEAM Planning Team Members (list may be augmented as planning progresses): Laurie Davenport, Program Director, TPCBA Volunteer Legal Services John Purbaugh, Senior Attorney, Northwest Justice Project Tacoma Office Darlene Teafatiller and Kevin Rundle, Tacoma Pierce County YWCA Legal Services Cindy Leeder and Dave Demick, Pierce County Court Facilitators Susan Adams and Beth Hancock, Crystal Judson Family Justice Center Laurie Miller and Tina Aure, Pierce County Law Library Joy Ann von Wahlde and Karen Martin, CLEAR Peter Greenfield, Columbia Legal Services Andrea Del-Pan, TeamChild Tacoma Office Nancy Acevedo, NWIRP Tacoma Office Kit Kasner, Executive Director, Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association Wendy Zicht, President-Elect, Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association Lauren Walker, Director, Fair Housing Center of South Puget Sound Millle Kennedy, Northwest Justice Project Native American Advocacy Mike Kawamura, Director, Pierce County Dept. of Assigned Counsel Hon. Frank Cuthbertson, Pierce County Superior Court Dept. 21 Hon. Rosanne Buckner, Pierce County Superior Court Dept. 6 Nancy Shattuck, Domestic Violence Coordinator, City of Puyallup Christine Wilson, representing Pierce County Council member Calvin Goings Sharon Winters, Interim Director, Pierce County Center for Dispute Resolution Todd Carlisle, Attorney, Northwest Justice Project, Tacoma Office Jennifer Brugger, Attorney, Northwest Justice Project, Tacoma Office Steve Parsons, Attorney, Northwest Justice Project, Tacoma Office Jennifer Bell, Attorney, Northwest Justice Project, Tacoma Office Patricia Toy, Attorney, private practice in family law, Tacoma Marisol Melendez, Victim Advocate, Family Advocacy Program, Ft. Lewis Core Planning Team Laurie Davenport, Program Director, TPCBA Volunteer Legal Services John Purbaugh, Senior Attorney, Northwest Justice Project Tacoma Office Darlene Teafatiller and Kevin Rundle, Tacoma Pierce County YWCA Legal Services Cindy Leeder and Dave Demick, Pierce County Court Facilitators Susan Adams and Beth Hancock, Crystal Judson Family Justice Center Laurie Miller and Tina Aure, Pierce County Law Library 1
  2. 2. Potential team members not listed above who received invitation to participate and survey (survey information still being received): Native American Kwawache Counseling Center Puyallup Tribal Court Federal Courts State of Washington DSHS Community Services Offices Attorney General Consumer Protection Division, Tacoma WorkSource Legislators Pierce County (all offices) City of Tacoma (all offices) Military Ft. Lewis McChord AFB Colleges & Universities PLU UPS UWT TCC Pierce College Clover Park Bates WSU extension Cultural & Community Centers Centro Latino Indochinese Cultural and Service Center Catholic Community Services MSM KWA PCAF Tacoma Community House Health Care/Mental Health Greater Lakes Comprehensive Mental Health Low-income services Metropolitan Development Council MLK Housing Development Association WWEE Nativity House Tacoma Rescue Mission Associated Ministries TACID City of Gig Harbor City of Puyallup News media (Tacoma News Tribune and Tacoma Weekly) 2
  3. 3. II. CIVIL LEGAL NEEDS A. Poverty Population statistics specific to Pierce County Attributes PIERCE County Data 700,820 Total Population + 1631 Farmworkers per Larson study = 702,451 71,316 Poverty Population +816 Farmworkers per Larson study =72,132 Percentage of Population in Poverty 10% Percentage of Statewide Poverty Population 12% THE STATISTICS BELOW ARE BASED ON THE 2000 CENSUS. THEY DO NOT INCLUDE INFORMATION ON FARMWORKERS. Age 65+ 71,386 Percent 65+ 10% 65+ in Poverty 4953 17 and Younger 190,257 Percent 17 and Younger 27% 17 and Younger in Poverty 25,470 White 548,941 Black 48,741 American Indian 9,472 Asian 34,671 Pacific Islander 5,075 Other Race 14,879 Mixed Race 39,041 White % Poverty Pop. 62% Black % Poverty Pop. 11% American Indian % Poverty Pop. 3% Asian % Poverty Pop. 9% Pacific Islander % Poverty Pop. 1% Other Race % Poverty Pop. 5% Mixed Race % Poverty Pop. 9% Hispanic 38,577 Hispanic Poverty Population 11% Households with No Phone Service 3450 Percentage of Households with No Phone Service 1% Non-English Speakers 76,648 Non-English Speaking Percentage of Population 12% Farm Workers 1631 People in Institutions 8200 Statistics from US Census 2000 Note: Poverty status was determined for all people except institutionalized people, people in military group quarters, people in college dormitories, and unrelated individuals under 15 years old. In addition to the categories listed above, Pierce County has significant numbers of residents who are low-income and: - Connected with the military, on and off-base - Institutionalized or living in work-release/halfway houses - Students 3
  4. 4. - Homeless - Listed as ‘white’ but may have many of the same barriers to access as ethnic minorities (i.e. Russian, Ukranian, etc.) The statistics given above do not represent the significant growth in population and international immigration into Pierce County which has taken place since 2000. It will be useful for planning purposes to update the 2000 Census information with more current information from the Census Bureau: In 2005, the Census Bureau estimated the median age in Pierce County, Washington to be 35.0 years old. The median in Pierce is less than the median age for the State of Washington of 36.7. From 2000, the area has seen an increase in the median, when the median age was 33.9 years old. With 25.2 percent of the 2005 population being made up of children and youth younger than 18, Pierce can be understood as having a medium-high proportion of youths. The 18 to 64 years old population group has a medium-high presence of the population, with 64.4 percent of the population makes up this age category. The retirement (65 and over) age group comprises 10.4 percent of the total population in the area. Compared to other counties in the US, this represents a medium-low proportion of the area population base. Since the year 2000, a high amount of people migrated to Pierce internationally. The international migration into Pierce accounts for 7.5 percent of the total international migration into the State of Washington. This amount of international migration is high when comparing levels of immigration per population in 2005. Pierce County, Washington had an estimated population of 753,787 in 2005. The total population has increased sharply, since the 2000 total population of 704,026. This growth shows an increase of 7.1 percent. Pierce ranks 3 of 39 counties in terms of population growth in Washington and the county ranks 58 of 3,141 counties when analyzing total county population change across the nation. The area population base can be described as having a high level of diversity, with 19.0 percent of the population being minorities. This is greater than the State of Washington percent of 18.3. Since 2000, Pierce has increased in diversity when 17.6 percent of the total population were minorities. When calculating the total land area, Pierce spans a total of 1679 square miles. This area has a medium-high population density of 449 persons per square mile, in 2005. Datasource: Population Estimates Program, U.S. Bureau of the Census. 4
  5. 5. B. Areas of Greatest Civil Legal Need in Pierce County The principal providers of low-income legal aid for Pierce County are CLEAR, Northwest Justice Project Tacoma Office, Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association Volunteer Legal Services, TeamChild, YWCA Legal Services, Family Justice Center, Center for Dispute Resolution and Family Law Facilitators. Based on available statistics from these providers showing numbers of cases opened during the calendar year 2006 (assuming that ‘cases opened’ reflects areas of civil legal need for which resources have been developed due to client demand but not necessarily organizational priorities or civil legal needs for which resources and public education are presently underdeveloped), the areas of greatest need in Pierce County presently being addressed are: Family law Housing/Landlord-Tenant Public Benefits Consumer Wills & Estates Employment Juvenile/Education Civil Rights Torts III. LEGAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE A. Statistical Information PIERCE 2005 CLEAR hours 2496 CLEAR/CLEAR Senior FTE** 2.8 Northwest Justice Project 5848 # of licensed available private Attorneys 1693 Expected pro bono contri- bution (hours) 10,158 B. Pierce County Legal Resources Organization Contact Name Legal Services Provided TPCBA Volunteer Legal Laurie Davenport Direct representation, brief Services (includes Tacoma- services, clinical programs, 5
  6. 6. Pierce County Coordinated screening for CLEAR, Pro Se Family Law Project and Assistance, public information Housing Justice Project) Northwest Justice Project John Purbaugh Direct representation, Advice and brief service through CLEAR YWCA Legal Services Darlene Teafatiller Direct representation, DVPO, temporary orders, dissolution for DV victims Courthouse Facilitator Cindy Leeder Assists with family law paperwork and coordinates with other resources and providers Northwest Immigrant Rights Nancy Acevedo Advises and represents detainees Project at Tacoma detention center Pierce County Center for Sharon Winters Mediation services, settlements, Dispute Resolution sliding scale TeamChild Andrea Del-Pan Advocacy and other services for at-risk youth Fair Housing Center Lauren Walker Assistance with discrimination and accommodation issues in housing Pierce County Law Library Laurie Miller Forms, pro se resources, access to legal research and computer/Internet-based resources, hosts clinics Family Justice Center Susan Adams One-stop domestic violence service provider; DVPO and other legal services by YWCA legal services on premises Military legal services Various Limited assistance for clients serving at Ft. Lewis and McChord, including pro se family law information Family Advocacy Program, Marisol Melendez Advocacy and pro se assistance Ft. Lewis for domestic violence victims at Ft. Lewis Superior Court Clerk Kevin Stock Pro se assistance, directs facilitator’s office and supports DVPO kiosks Puyallup Tribal Court Adjudication of issues related to tribal law, tribal members Pierce County Aging & Connie Kline Provides an extensive library of Longterm Care legal resources to seniors and families Unemployment Law Project Provides representation and advice for denial of unemployment benefits 6
  7. 7. UW Law Tax Clinic Assistance for low-income people with IRS issues Prosecutor’s Office, Family Rebecca Fox Assists with child support and Support Division paternity issues when client is receiving state assistance Office of the Attorney Provides information and General publications on consumer issues City of Tacoma Human Provides advocacy and referral on Rights Office a wide variety of issues DSHS Provides DV advocacy and referral to resources Family Support Centers Help with DVPOs and other family issues Washington Protection & Wide variety of help for low- Advocacy income population – advocacy and referral for legal issues IV. NECESSARY TYPES OF LEGAL AID SERVICES The State Plan, in section IV. B. sets out a continuum of legal aid services that are “necessary to achieve the Hallmarks and should be available to clients in every service region.” These services are listed below as they appear in the State Plan and described as they are currently available in Pierce County: • Outreach and community education activities which help clients identify and avoid legal problems and tell them how to access the civil legal aid delivery system; Legal aid providers attend local fairs and exhibitions aimed at specific populations (seniors, Asian-Americans, etc.) or public events such as the Tacoma Farmers Market and Ethnic Fest to distribute information The Coordinated Family Law Project has placed ‘Family Law Help’ posters with contact information and ‘Family Law Resource’ brochures (providing contact information describing the types of services available from each local legal aid provider) in the courthouse and as many other relevant locations as possible. Brochures for all legal aid programs are distributed as widely as possible, along with other devices such as the bookmarks. 7
  8. 8. The Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association provides speakers on a wide variety of legal topics and distributes WSBA brochures on common legal issues • Accessible and accurate legal information on common civil legal problems; Online information is provided to residents of this region through, and other relevant sites including which provides access to Pierce County local rules and court information., the website operated by TPCBA Volunteer Legal Services, provides family law information to the public specific to Pierce County through the Coordinated Family Law Project. This site currently offers 12 presentations on various aspects of family law. The Housing Justice Project also provides information and pleading forms on this site to be used in eviction defense. The site receives an average of 1,000 requests per week for family law and housing information. The information is also available in hard copy. The Pierce County Law Library provides access to both online and printed information on common problems and serves the public with both day and evening hours. TPCBA VLS, NJP, and other local legal aid programs make information available in other languages as much as possible and provide translation whenever needed for clients. NJP has recently hired a bilingual (Spanish) receptionist for the Access to Civil Justice Center which houses NJP, TPCBA VLS and TeamChild. • Appropriate systems for legal aid intake, advice, brief service and referral for further representation that are accessible and responsive to the needs of all low income people; CLEAR processes the largest number of intakes and referrals in Pierce County, referring to all local legal aid programs. In addition to CLEAR, the following clinical programs sponsored by TPCBA Volunteer Legal Services and staffed 8
  9. 9. by volunteer attorneys provide in-person intake and local access to advice, brief service and referral: Neighborhood Legal Clinic – 1st 3 Mondays of each month, 6-8 p.m., Pierce County Law Library, screened for low-income eligibility, appointment required Clinica Legal de la Vecindad – 4th Monday of each month, Pierce County Law Library, 4:30-6 p.m., for monolingual Spanish-speaking clients only, no screening, no appointment necessary Lakewood Pro Bono Clinic at My Service Mind – 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month at 7 p.m. at MSM, a Lakewood Korean community center. No screening, appointment required, Korean and Russian translation always available, other languages as needed Northwest Justice Project represents clients at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, providing intake and referral for Western State clients who have civil legal needs which require referral to another legal aid provider TPCBA VLS presently has a Housing Justice Project attorney of the day available Thursday mornings 9-12 to do housing intake, advice and brief service for clients either referred by CLEAR or needing HJP intake and immediate assistance • Effective advice, brief service, assistance with document preparation and review, and other services for pro se litigants; In addition to those services noted above, The Pierce County Domestic Relations Facilitators provide assistance with preparation of all family law documents, and The TPCBA VLS Noon Pro Se Family Law Clinic held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month from noon-1:30 p.m. coordinates with clients who have been assisted by the Facilitators and eligible clients, providing an opportunity for document review and legal advice for pro se family law litigants. 9
  10. 10. The TPCBA VLS Housing Justice Project coordinates with CLEAR to provide on-site assistance to low- income clients representing themselves in eviction defense or other landlord-tenant disputes. • Emergency legal assistance relating to issues implicating survival and safety, including domestic violence, housing, food and medical care; The Crystal Judson Family Justice Center is a one- stop center for victims of domestic violence based on a similar project in San Diego. The Center was created to better address the full spectrum of needs, legal and otherwise, experienced by DV victims and provides access to legal services (provided by YWCA Legal Services), advocacy, law enforcement, shelter and other needs. The FJC is also a participant in the Coordinated Family Law Project. The Tacoma-Pierce County YWCA, in addition to its Legal Services Department, also has an on-site shelter and provides a high level of integrated services to domestic violence victims Kiosks in the courthouse, Family Justice Center, Gig Harbor, Lakewood and Bonney Lake allow immediate online access to the Clerk’s office for DVPOs YWCA Legal Services provides pro bono representation for victims in sexual assault protection order cases The cities of Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup and Sumner have domestic violence programs providing advocacy and emergency referral. These services are also available at DSHS offices and the family support centers in each school district. • Extended representation on legal problems affecting basic client needs and which empowers low income people to improve their lives and communities; Northwest Justice Project provides extended representation to clients in all areas of civil law. Its priorities are regularly reviewed and concentrate on legal issues and emerging problems which affect the 10
  11. 11. low-income population directly or which may achieve improvements having a positive effect on the client population. Volunteer Legal Services provides extended representation by volunteer attorneys in all areas of civil law. Extended representation is also provided by TeamChild, YWCA Legal Services and other legal aid providers in specialized areas. • Representation in all relevant legal forums, using all lawful advocacy tools; and Northwest Justice Project, Columbia Legal Services and Volunteer Legal Services pro bono attorneys represent low-income clients in federal court, superior court and tribal court in Pierce County. Clients who have civil legal issues in Pierce County need not be residents of Pierce County in order to receive services. Clients or cases which cannot be addressed by Northwest Justice Project due to funding restrictions (undocumented clients, class actions, unusual legal specialties) are served by Volunteer Legal Services or Columbia Legal Services. • Continuous engagement with low income communities to identify and initiate effective responses to emerging legal problems. Northwest Justice Project and TPCBA Volunteer Legal Services are directly engaged with representatives of the Native American, Indochinese, Korean, Hispanic, Russian and other ethnic, cultural and linguistic minority communities, in exchanging information and referrals and with the present and long-term intention of developing programs specifically designed to address current and emerging problems. Examples of programs created through such engagement are the Lakewood Pro Bono clinic at My Service Mind and the Clinica Legal de la Vecindad. The local NJP office has many examples of cases referred through relationships with these groups. 11
  12. 12. Relationships between local legal aid providers and other organizations serving the low-income population, such as Tacoma Housing Authority, Pierce County Housing Authority, Metropolitan Development Council, etc., are similarly monitored for referrals, new problems and issues and opportunities for mutual development of programs. To arrive at as complete a picture as possible for categories V, VI and VII in our assessment template – the gaps, including legal needs not being addressed, specific barriers to access and the accessibility of publicly available technology in our community, our team distributed a brief survey as widely as possible. The points delineated below reflect input received from a wide variety of local sources who either provide legal services or deal directly with low-income populations in our county. V. THE GAPS -- LEGAL NEEDS THAT ARE NOT BEING ADDRESSED This legal needs list more closely resembles the information in the Civil Legal Needs Study than the information listed above under II B, probably because it is not based on cases opened by legal aid providers but on person-to-person reporting about civil legal issues which are NOT being addressed, similar to the personal interview method in which the information for the Civil Legal Needs Study was gathered. We recognize that many of these issues are interdependent and that our survey effort is not particularly scientific, but it is instructive to note the difference between the two. Landlord-Tenant issues -- including eviction, repairs and living conditions, crime and safety issues, discrimination and predatory practices, education on renter rights, housing issues related to domestic violence. This was the most-often mentioned issue in the survey responses. Family Law/Safety/Care issues – the biggest issues named in order of frequency were custody and visitation, dissolution, child support, parenting plans, paternity, nonparental custody, domestic violence, adequate representation for parents in dependency cases, representation for adolescents in foster care, child and senior care issues, guardianship. Access to housing -- basic survival, access to services for homeless people Access to/denial of mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment, medication Social Security and other benefits issues 12
  13. 13. Expungment of criminal convictions – information and help with this issue is lacking and has an enormous effect on access to housing and employment. Consumer issues – debt issues, identity theft, predatory lending, consumer protection, financial exploitation of seniors Education – access, expulsion, suspension Employment issues Immigration issues -- lack of documentation for homeless and immigrant populations Assistance for incarcerated individuals with civil legal issues of all types VI. BARRIERS TO ACCESS OF LEGAL AID Non-English Language barriers – Russian, Spanish and Asian languages. This was the number one barrier consistently mentioned. Lack of qualified interpreter services, certified translation in written form Lack of signage and legal information in Russian, Spanish and Asian languages Literacy – people are often embarrassed to admit they can’t read and therefore can’t prepare forms, so just don’t get help. Literacy is an issue in all languages. Non-Citizens Fear of undocumented people that seeking any kind of help (not just legal help) will result in reporting to INS Elderly Long-term care residents don’t have access to help with legal issues Elderly people think they shouldn’t bother anyone with their problems, are embarrassed and apologetic Elderly people have less information resources available to them because tend not to own computers, be able to get to a public library easily or to be computer-savvy enough to find information on the Internet 13
  14. 14. Geographical No court access in rural areas – if you have to file something, you have to go to Tacoma People who are disabled, living in rural areas or don’t have cars don’t have transportation to get to services Transient lifestyle of military families Cultural Behavior necessary for survival in old country may be illegal here or vice versa The client may be from a country where the justice system was viewed with suspicion or hostility. The client may not know what to do and not to do when encountering the police or government officials Legal System Not enough knowledgeable information providers People don’t know where to go for help. People have called so many different resources they don’t know who is helping them People don’t know filing fees can be waived Poor signage in the courthouse, no signage in languages other than English People don’t have knowledge or skills to define their problems, do paperwork or present their case clearly and providers don’t have time to help them. Can’t pay for necessary fees for case to go forward (service, GAL, etc.) Disconnect between providers – don’t know what others do or how to refer ‘Falling through the cracks’ 14
  15. 15. Clients don’t know what to expect – if they don’t get what they see on TV they don’t think they are getting help, need more education Many low-income resources don’t provide personal contact, disappear after a short time, staffed by overworked volunteers Lack of reciprocity Limited hours and long waiting times mean people give up trying to reach CLEAR and just don’t get help with problems The ‘hassle factor’ – paperwork leads to more paperwork, people have to redo intakes time and time again, are rushed through processes, can’t schedule time for help around work and child care Some landlord-tenant programs which used to exist have disappeared Lack of child care Domestic violence victims can always get emergency help but are on their own down the road when it’s time to finalize a divorce or paternity action Lack of realistic education for pro se litigants One client usually has multiple issues and one provider doesn’t know how to direct the client to others Disenfranchised! – lack of belief and trust in the system Low-income people don’t think they can get access to needed legal services. They think they have no recourse when what they feel are illegal actions are taken against them by landlords, husbands, domestic partners, etc. Landlord-tenant issues are huge and people do not feel they have the power to make a change -- all the protection in the law is for landlords Low-income people don’t understand how the system works and are intimidated by lawyers and judges. Lawyers and judges take advantage of pro se litigants; paying clients want to win and the system doesn’t want to provide a level playing field. People from rural areas are afraid to come to Tacoma, don’t trust people in the ‘big city,’ don’t think they can find the courthouse, will get lost on the freeway, can’t find parking, people won’t help them, etc. 15
  16. 16. People believe the legal system isn’t for them because they can’t afford an attorney, that they are second-class citizens. VII. COMMENTS ON PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE TECHNOLOGY Many low-income people do have computers, use them, and if they don’t they have friends or can use library computers There are plenty of excellent Internet resources but people don’t have the knowledge or initiative to find them or the skills to use them Elderly people don’t generally have computers and many can’t visit libraries Places which do provide computers (public libraries) are overcrowded Librarians in the public libraries are VERY helpful The Pierce County Law Library has great resources and librarians are very helpful Literacy, computer and otherwise, is a big issue VIII. RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT Northwest Justice Project, TPCBA VLS, YWCA Legal Services, the Family Justice Center, the Pierce County Law Library and Facilitators Office and other legal services entities are working on several projects responsive to the principal gaps and barriers noted above, which have been recognized as important issues for some time. These include: Coordinated Family Law Project – Has created and continues to develop a website with pro se materials specific to Pierce County on a variety of family law issues. Translation of these materials into Russian and Spanish is ongoing. This group is now actively working on a common intake form and formalizing a coordinated intake process which will take the burden off the client and provide ‘one-stop’ intake for this county in family law. This should also facilitate providing continuity of service and ongoing access to legal aid for low-income domestic violence victims. Housing Justice Project – The HJP is making a concerted effort in 2007 to provide education, mentoring and structured volunteer opportunities for pro bono attorneys, as well as a Housing Justice Center in the Pierce County Law Library, to address the obvious need for enormously expanded public resources in the area of landlord-tenant law. 16
  17. 17. The core planning team expects to address other issues raised by this assessment, particularly concerning public education, the lack of resources in rural areas of the county and need for outreach to underserved immigrant, Native American and other low-income communities in its forthcoming plan. Below is a compilation of suggestions for resource development provided in survey responses and the December 13 community meeting: Coordination of services A ‘one-stop’ center for all legal services, like the Family Justice Center Coordinated intake (so clients don’t ‘bounce around’ or fall through the cracks) Education Education on the legal system in schools ‘legal preparation for life’ Free computers, Internet access and instruction for seniors in community centers and housing Classes in the jail on a defendant’s civil rights Clients need to know they can get free e-mail addresses to communicate with government, legal entities, human services Step-by-step pro se guides More use of mediation and ADR More education for all service providers and clients More legal services information on TV and radio – cable access show with basic information, different topics for each show More education for pro bono attorneys on issues important to low- income clients (landlord-tenant, family law, etc.) Outreach Urban Indian Homeless Mobile legal aid bus to go out to rural areas More outreach to Spanish, Russian, Asian communities so they will know what resources are available Access to court services in East Pierce County and rural areas Expansion Civil/criminal convergence needs attention South Hill needs a DPVO kiosk ‘Point of purchase’ merchandising – people need contact information for legal aid resources at the time of need Need an ‘ombudsman’ who has a little more time to spend with low- Income people to educate them, prevent problems, help them understand they can take charge of many things themselves and can understand legal documents 17
  18. 18. Resources are good but there are not enough – if we augment what’s already there we will be well on the way to helping more people 18