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Fighting for fairness for people in need

NCLEJ serves low-income families, individuals, and communities by advancing the cause of economic justice through ground-breaking, successful litigation and policy work around the country. We have provided legal representation, support, and advice to people living in poverty and their advocates since 1965, including securing the landmark Supreme Court decision in Goldberg v. Kelly.

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New and Noteworthy

Nebraska Appleseed and NCLEJ Challenge Unlawful Delay of Food Assistance in Nebraska

-Posted August 2014

Applications for food stamps must be processed quickly by law because food is not something that can wait for people who do not always know where their next meal is coming from. The suit, brought by NCLEJ and Nebraska Appleseed, alleges that thousands of needy Nebraska residents have waited longer than the legal timeframes for receiving food stamps, and requests that the state comply with federal law. Read more

 

Gina Mannix Tapped as NCLEJ Interim Executive Director

-Posted August 2014

Mary R. (Gina) Mannix has been elected by the Board of Directors as Interim Executive Director of NCLEJ. She will serve in this position until a new Executive Director is on board. Gina began her career at NCLEJ as an intern and has served as Program Director/Senior Attorney for many years. In announcing her appointment, Henry Freedman said that hiring Gina was “one of my first and best decisions as Executive Director. I am confident that she will provide exemplary leadership to NCLEJ during its transition.” Read more

 

NCLEJ’s Greg Bass and Marc Cohan Presented at the NLADA Litigation and Advocacy Directors’ Conference in Austin, TX

-Posted July 2014

Greg BassEarlier this month, NCLEJ’s Greg Bass, along with attorneys from Greater Boston Legal Services and the Northwest Justice Project, presented on advocacy with state welfare agencies under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Marc Cohan, along with colleagues from the National Health Law Program and AARP, presented on protecting wins achieved in consent decrees. The National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Litigation and Advocacy Directors’ Conference is a national gathering of experienced advocacy leaders designed to foster peer interaction and learning on the most important issues affecting legal aid programs and the communities they serve.

Greg Bass

 

NCLEJ Successfully Fought Improper Barriers for NYS Family Day Care Providers

-Posted July 2014

For low-income families, state-regulated family day care provides affordable child care options so that parents are able to earn a living. NCLEJ successfully argued before a New York State appeals court that local zoning laws that would have effectively barred state-approved family day care are unenforceable. Following the victory, NCLEJ continued to advocate for family day care providers and won a commitment from the town board to refund fees to our client and all other day care providers who paid to get a local permit. Read more

 

NCLEJ and EJC Lawsuit Helps Thousands; New Order Imposes New Requirements on Suffolk County (NY)

-Posted July 2014

Under a revised settlement agreement signed by the federal court in July 2014, the Suffolk County (NY) Department of Social Services must meet strict time requirements for processing food stamp and Medicaid applications that are in combination with an application for cash public assistance. The revised settlement recognizes processing times for food stamps and Medicaid stand-alone applications have improved significantly since plaintiffs filed a Motion for Contempt in 2012, but that more is required before the case will be dismissed. NCLEJ and Empire Justice Center reached the revised settlement in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of needy Suffolk County residents in 2008. Read more

 

Hot Off the Presses: NCLEJ's Summer Newsletter
-Posted June 2014

 

Federal Court Approves Class Action Settlement Requiring Niagara County (NY) to Provide Benefits Faster

-Posted June 2014

Jenny Pelaez and WNYLC counselOn June 17th, 2014, Judge Arcara of Western District of New York entered an order approving the settlement in McCoy v. Restaino, a case filed by NCLEJ and the Western New York Law Center in July 2013 on behalf of residents of Niagara County who have applied, or are applying, for food stamps and/or cash public assistance. The settlement requires the County to provide benefits to eligible families within the required time limits. NCLEJ’s Jenny Pelaez and Joe Kelemen, Director, WNYLC and Katherine Ellis, WNYLC intern (pictured here) appeared before Judge Richard J. Arcara on June 17, 2014. The Court found the settlement fair, adequate, and reasonable and approved it the same day. Read more

 

Congratulations, Henry Freedman and Steve Cutler!

-Posted May 2014

Henry Freedman and NCLEJ past and current Board Chairs Stephen Cutler and Marianne Lake
Jennifer Selendy, Cassandra Barham, Steve Kass, Paul Dodyk and Henry Freedman
Steve Cutler and Marianne Lake

On May 22nd, retiring NCLEJ Executive Director Henry Freedman and JPMorgan Chase Executive Vice President and General Counsel Steve Cutler were honored at NCLEJ’s Benefit Awards Dinner at Chelsea Piers. Thanks to all who made the dinner a great success—nearly $1 million was raised to support NCLEJ’s work to promote fairness and dignity for those in need!

 

Federal Government Improves Standards for Accessible Temporary Housing After Disasters

-Posted May 2014

On May 7, 2014, the federal government issued a final rule requiring that, after a disaster, five percent of the units at temporary housing sites be accessible to people with disabilities, and at least ten percent of the "unit pads" at temporary housing sites be compatible with an accessible trailer. In 2012, NCLEJ testified orally and submitted written testimony to the federal agency responsible for developing accessibility standards for FEMA’s post-disaster housing. Countless people with disabilities affected by future disasters will be more likely to get accessible temporary housing once the agency adopts the rule. Read more

 

NCLEJ Launches “EJ Coffee Break” Blog

-Posted May 2014

NCLEJ is proud to introduce the Economic Justice Coffee Break (EJ Coffee Break), a new bi-weekly blog inspired by our commitment to promoting economic justice across the country. Each EJ Coffee Break post will discuss an issue concerning poverty, race, gender, class and justice. Check out the first post “Reproductive Justice is Economic Justice” here and be sure to Like us on Facebook so you never miss a post!

 

Federal Court Settlement Requires NYC Housing Authority to Fix Rampant Mold and Moisture Problems in Public Housing

-Posted April 2014

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) must address rampant and severe mold and moisture problems in its apartments more quickly and thoroughly as a result of an agreement approved by the federal court in Baez v. NYCHA, a lawsuit brought by NCLEJ and the Natural Resources Defense Council on behalf of public housing residents with asthma. NYCHA housing is home to 400,000 New Yorkers, and its many residents with asthma are particularly vulnerable to the ill health effects of mold and moisture. Under the agreement, NYCHA must respond to mold and moisture complaints within strict time frames. Read more

 

NCLEJ Lawsuit Challenges Failure to Provide Food Stamps to Low-Income Georgians in a Timely Manner

-Posted April 2014

Thousands of eligible low-income Georgia households face administrative hurdles in the food stamp application process and do not get food stamps when they should. This case, filed in March 2014, challenges the State’s failure to process initial and renewal applications and provide benefits to eligible households in a timely fashion as required by federal food stamp law. The case also challenges the State’s denial notices for failing to meet constitutional due process standards. Read more

 

NCLEJ and WNYLC Achieve Revised Settlement Imposing New Requirements on Erie County

-Posted April 2014

Under a revised settlement agreement approved by the federal court in March 2014, the Erie County (NY) Department of Social Services must, within six months, meet strict time requirements for processing food stamp and cash assistance applications for needy families. The revised settlement was reached in a class action lawsuit filed by NCLEJ and the Western New York Law Center in 2006 on behalf of thousands of applicants and originally settled in 2008. The revised settlement recognizes processing times have improved significantly since the case was filed but that more is required before the case will be dismissed. Read more

 

NCLEJ Launches Search for Executive Director

-Posted March 2014

The NCLEJ Board of Directors is conducting a national search for a new leader. Reporting to NCLEJ’s Board of Directors, the Executive Director will be based in New York and will lead an experienced and mission-driven staff. The successful candidate will have the great privilege and opportunity to build upon a powerful legacy of legal advocacy on behalf of low income individuals and families, and the exciting challenge of enhancing and evolving the NCLEJ ’s programs to address most effectively the causes of deepening poverty in communities across the country. Read more

 

NCLEJ's May 22nd Awards Dinner to Honor Stephen Cutler and Henry Freedman

-Posted February 2014

Save the Date- NCLEJ Benefit Dinner

Freedman Fund for Due Process Established at NCLEJ

-Posted February 2014

The Freedman Fund for Due ProcessHenry Freedman has devoted his career to fighting for fairness and dignity for low-income people dealing with government agencies. To make sure this work can continues after he retires, he has established the Freedman Fund for Due Process at NCLEJ to preserve the legacy of Goldberg v. Kelly. Donations to the Freedman Fund will honor the legacy of Henry Freedman and support NCLEJ's efforts to ensure that that low-income people are treated fairly and with dignity. You can make a tax deductible donation to the Freedman Fund here and see more information on the Fund here.

 

Henry Freedman to Step Down as NCLEJ Executive Director

-Posted January 2014

Henry FreedmanAfter more than four decades of extraordinary leadership as Executive Director of NCLEJ, Henry Freedman has announced that he will retire this summer. Henry is fully committed to helping find a successor who can ensure that NCLEJ will carry on the great work that he has begun. NCLEJ's Board of Directors is implementing a transition plan and will commence a national search for a new Executive Director. Henry will remain the dedicated leader of NCLEJ during the transition. NCLEJ’s Board and staff look forward to joining with Henry’s friends and colleagues to celebrate Henry and his wonderful leadership at NCLEJ’s annual dinner on May 22, 2014, through the launch of the Freedman Fund for Due Process, and at events throughout the year. Read more

 

Observations on Legal Services, NCLEJ, and the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

-Posted January 2014

On the 50th Anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty (January 8, 1964), we celebrate the fantastic work of the legal services lawyers, paralegals, and advocates working in programs, created at that time, who are making a difference in so many lives today. If it were not for their efforts, poverty currently would be far worse than it is. NCLEJ is proud to be a part of that creation a half century ago, and to be doing all we can to make life better for those we serve. See further thoughts from NCLEJ Executive Director Henry Freedman here.

 

Welcome New Staff Members!

-Posted December 2013

Greg Bass Greg Bass, currently the Litigation Director at Greater Hartford Legal Aid, will start work next month as our new Senior Attorney focused on disability rights.  Greg has served as Litigation Director in Hartford for over 16 years.  He litigated, with help from NCLEJ staff, Raymond v. Rowland, a major class action under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  After several years of litigation and negotiation, a $25 million settlement was achieved, which restructured welfare agency policies, regulations, notices, and staff hiring and training to comply with the ADA.  Greg’s legal career of 33 years has been devoted to serving as an attorney and managing attorney with legal services programs in Alabama, Washington, California, and Connecticut.  He is a graduate of the American University Washington College of Law.

 

Emerie Snyder Emerie Snyder joined NCLEJ as Financial and Administrative Manager earlier this month.  She has served as administrator, office manager, and bookkeeper at a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations, including Context America, Pomegranate Arts, EMpower: The Emerging Markets Foundation, and 37 Arts.  She received a BFA from New York University, and is also a professional theatre director.

 

 

NCLEJ’s Challenge to Indiana’s Food Stamp Processing Times Yields Dramatic Improvements

-Posted December 2013

Indiana provided on-time food stamps to a just over two-thirds of all applicants when we and co-counsel went to court four years ago. On-time performance is now over 95%. The USDA Food and Nutrition Services credits our case with much of the State’s improvement. On December 5, 2013, the court approved the final settlement in the case. We are gratified that fewer hungry Indiana families face delays in getting the benefits they so desperately need. Read more

 

New Mexico Loses Appeal — Exclusion of Farm and Ranch Workers from Workers' Compensation is Unconstitutional

-Posted December 2013

On November 25, 2013, the New Mexico Court of Appeals denied the State’s appeal from the trial court’s ruling that farm and ranch workers (“the poorest of the working poor”) could not be excluded from the Workers’ Compensation program. The workers who had been injured, as well as Sin Fronteras Organizing Project and HELP-New Mexico, were represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, the law offices of Nancy L. Simmons, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and NCLEJ. Read more

 

$80 Million Class Action Settlement Helps Offset Food Stamps Cuts Just in Time for Thanksgiving

-Posted November 2013

Because of a lawsuit litigated by the New York Legal Aid Society, the Empire Justice Center, and NCLEJ, more than 100,000 low-income families across New York State who were improperly cut off or denied food stamps are now receiving back benefits totaling $80 million. These payments will help, temporarily, to offset the November 1st federal cut in food stamp benefits for these households. We are gratified that so many families will have much needed help buying food just in time for Thanksgiving. Read more

 

NCLEJ Examines Racial Stereotyping in TANF and Urges Advocacy to Improve TANF and Promote Racial Justice

-Posted November 2013

Clearinghouse Review

 

In the latest issue of the Clearinghouse Review focused on racial justice, NCLEJ’s Gina Mannix and Henry Freedman discuss recent social science research showing how subtle race-based factors and stereotypes continue to infect policy and administration in TANF, the cash assistance program for families. In light of these findings, they suggest that advocacy to address the utter inadequacy of TANF and to strengthen income security for poor families will further the cause of racial justice. Read the article here

 

 

Farewell, Cary LaCheen!

-Posted October 2013

Cary LaCheen

NCLEJ bids a fond farewell to inimitable Senior Attorney Cary LaCheen. After 13 years at NCLEJ fighting for fairness, justice, and dignity for our clients, especially those with disabilities, Cary has left NCLEJ to join the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC. In announcing her departure, Executive Director Henry Freedman said, “As you can imagine, we are greatly saddened by Cary’s leaving, even as we know she will do all she can – which is so much – at HHS to make the world a better place for so many of our clients. The energy, devotion, and expertise she has brought to her position here have been one of my greatest joys over the past 13 years.” Read more about Cary’s disability work

 

NCLEJ and Colleagues Achieve Even Speedier Payment of SNAP Benefits to Low-Income Hawaiians

-Posted October 2013

Low-income Hawaii SNAP (food stamp) recipients will get their crucial benefits even faster as the result of the final settlement in Booth v. McManaman, a federal class action. This case has already achieved a substantial improvement in agency performance, with thousands more low-income households receiving SNAP benefits promptly. The settlement now requires further improvement in benefit processing times. Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing joined NCLEJ as counsel in this case. Read more

 

NCLEJ Wins Appeal: Towns Cannot Interfere with Low-Income Family Day Care

-Posted September 2013

On September 27, 2013, the New York Appellate Division, Fourth Department affirmed a decision that local zoning laws regulating family day care are unenforceable because state law preempts local regulation of family day care homes. Family day care helps low-income parents support their families by providing affordable child care while also giving day care providers the chance to earn a living from home. Read more

 

Oswego County (NY) Department of Social Services Adopts Comprehensive Disability Rights Policy

-Posted September 2013

Following advocacy by NCLEJ and Legal Services of Central New York, the County agency has adopted a detailed policy that will enable people with disabilities to get the benefits and accommodations they need. This is the most recent of many counties in New York which have vastly improved policies in response to our efforts. Read more

 

Moorthy and Villarreal Elected to NCLEJ’s Board

-Posted September 2013

Malini Moorthy and Elpidio VillarrealMalini Moorthy and Elpidio (PD) Villarreal were elected on September 13th to NCLEJ’s Board of Directors. Malini is Vice President and Assistant General Counsel and heads the Civil Litigation Group at Pfizer. PD is Senior Vice President, Global Litigation, at GlaxoSmithKline and was an honoree at our 2011 awards dinner. Both have extensive corporate experience, as well as experience working with nonprofit organizations. "We are thrilled to have such talented and committed attorneys as Malini and PD join our Board of Directors," said Executive Director Henry Freedman in announcing their election.

 

Special Master Appointed to Speed Application Processing in Nassau County

-Posted September 2013

In response to the contempt motion filed by NCLEJ and the Empire Justice Center challenging Nassau County’s persistent delays in processing food stamp and Medicaid applications, the federal court has appointed Grace Moran as a special master to oversee the County’s formulation and implementation of a corrective action plan. Read more

 

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Poverty in the United States: A Snapshot

Census figures released in September 2013 confirm that record-high numbers of Americans are living in poverty. more »