It has been a very busy few months here at NLS with many important victories to report for our clients. Check out the articles below for a sample of the work that we've been doing:
Community Economic Development
Community Economic Development lawyering refers to the provision of a wide range of community building and advocacy-related services in which advocates support community-identified change initiatives which include such activities as supporting a neighborhood’s effort to develop affordable housing, assisting tenant organizations to preserve their affordable development, creating day care centers, influencing public policies that affect low-income communities, and facilitating the creation and ongoing support of permanent community-based institutions. Lawyering in the field of Community Economic Development is distinguished from traditional lawyering by its explicit focus on using legal knowledge and skills to return power to the community level and support lasting changes that bring about social justice.
NLS' consumer work is currently focused on preserving homes for victims of predatory lending practices. NLS also runs a debtor advice clinic at which persons can learn whether bankruptcy is the right legal solution for their problems, or whether other strategies might serve them better. The clinics are given in both English and in Spanish.
Working with local agencies, NLS represents persons age 60 and older in southern Essex County in a variety of matters, including nursing home resident's rights, MassHealth problems, housing matters, elder abuse and exploitation, Social Security, Consumer and Veteran's Benefits issues. Persons seeking services should contact their local Aging Service Access Points (GLSS, NSES, SrCare) for a referral.
Working with community partners, NLS assists victims of domestic violence in divorce, custody, paternity, support and visitation matters. NLS runs a family law helpline through which attorneys can provide brief telephonic advice on a range of family law matters, and a pro se divorce clinic in which clients who are not recent victims of domestic violence, fill out court pleadings and learn how to represent themselves in simple, uncontested divorce actions. Both the helpline and the clinic are offered in English and in Spanish.
NLS' housing work is focused on preventing homelessness and preserving affordable housing. We run a "Lawyer of the Day" program in the Essex County sessions of the Northeast Housing Court at which low income litigants can obtain advice and/or representation at mediation. If an agreement is not reached, we are able to provide representation to some litigants at trial. We also assist applicants and residents of public housing and applicants and holders of Section 8 vouchers obtain and preserve their tenancies and work to preserve affordable housing in our communities.