To Help Protect Consumers To Help Keep America Working
To Help Prevent Elder Abuse
On Behalf Of Tribes & Tribal Members
To Help Prevent Domestic Violence
To Help People with Criminal Records make a Successful Reentry
To Help Veterans and Servicemembers
To Help Keep Children in School
To Help People Exit Homelessness and Stay Housed
To Help People Access Health Care
The Office for Access to Justice will continue to post case studies on new topics throughout the year.
Standing up for Victims of Mortgage Fraud
A home repair contractor approached Sadie, an 85-year-old African American woman who has owned her home for forty years, promising to perform home improvements under a "free government program" for seniors. Sadie did not understand the papers she signed, and did not realize that the contractor had taken $122,000 from a reverse mortgage on her home even before any work was done. He eventually remodeled two bathrooms, but the work was sloppy and defective. No other home improvements were performed. Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago (LAF), a federally-funded Legal Services Corporation grantee, filed a lawsuit to void the loan and recover money damages from the contractor's company, ultimately settling for $110,000. LAF continues to represent other mostly elderly and minority victims of this reverse mortgage scheme.
Legal Aid gets Dad Back on Road to Work
After five years working as a delivery driver for a home improvement chain, Joe lost his job when his driver’s license was suspended because medical expenses for his prematurely-born daughter left him unable to pay outstanding traffic fines. SonomaWORKS, Sonoma County’s HHS-funded welfare-to-work program, referred Joe to what seemed like a perfect job as a delivery driver for a parts store. When the employer offered him a position contingent on securing a driver’s license, he sought help from Legal Aid of Sonoma County. With funding from California’s TANF program, Joe’s legal aid lawyer successfully arranged an affordable payment plan for a reduced bail amount so Joe could pay off his fines and get his drivers license reinstated. Thanks to the legal and employment services provided through SonomaWORKS, Joe once again became self-sufficient.
Legal Aid Delivers Justice for Elderly Domestic Violence Victim
Cynthia was 83-years old when her controlling husband threw her out of their home and cut her off from all assets after she became too ill to care for him and their home. Cynthia’s husband was wealthy, and theirs was a second marriage that occurred late in life. During their marriage, Cynthia became isolated and was subjected to controlling and threatening behavior. After her husband Kicked her out of their home, she had no means of support other than a small Social Security benefit. Funded in part by DOJ OVW’s Legal Assistance for Victims grant, a Montana Legal Services Association attorney represented Cynthia in court. The attorney successfully obtained a property settlement that allowed Cynthia to live out her remaining years in safety and in a home close to her adult children.
Doctor prescribes a lawyer to keep family healthy and housed
After Rose, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, lost her adult daughter in a car accident, she was left to raise five grandchildren. With no room for the children in her own house, Rose moved into her deceased daughter’s apartment. Still grieving, Rose received an eviction notice from the housing agency, because she was not named on the apartment lease. She was told that she and the children had to move. When a pediatrician at the Indian Health Service clinic learned of the situation, she referred Rose to DNA-People’s Legal Services Medical-Legal Partnership Program, funded by DOJ’s Tribal Civil Legal Assistance Program. With the help of her DNA-People’s Legal Services lawyer, Rose showed that tribal law and federal policies allowed her to assume the lease obligations. Rose continued to care for the children in their own home and, with DNA’s help, obtained legal guardianship over each grandchild.
“Nazia,” a 37-year-old immigrant from Guyana, fled with her two young children from the physical and emotional abuse of her husband. With the assistance of Legal Services Corporation-funded Queens Legal Services (QLS), a recipient of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Family and Youth Services Bureau funding, she successfully obtained an Order of Protection and full custody of her children. However, shortly thereafter, Nazia’s abuser retaliated by filing for a modification of custody, citing frivolous allegations of inappropriate parenting. Her legal aid lawyer continued to represent her and also referred Nazia to a QLS social worker, who provided counseling to her and her children throughout the process. Again, thanks to her legal aid lawyer, after two years of litigation, Nazia settled the case and retained sole legal custody of her children.
Civil Legal Aid Supports Federal Efforts to Help People with Criminal Records Make a Successful Reentry
“Andy’s” 10-year old felony conviction prevented him from pursuing his hopes of securing a state license to become a New York Licensed Practical Nurse. The Fortune Society, a grantee of U.S. Department of Labor’s Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Program, referred Andy to MFY Legal Services in New York. His legal aid lawyer helped Andy obtain out-of state criminal court records, gather proof of rehabilitation, and represented him at the initial investigative interview. The result was a successful license application and a job.
When “Clyde” sought medical help from the Philadelphia U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a social worker learned he had fallen behind on his rent and faced eviction from his apartment. The social worker and the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) caseworker recognized Clyde’s need for legal help, and assisted Clyde in getting an appointment with an attorney at the SSVF program’s legal aid partner, Homeless Advocacy Project. With the SSVF program providing some of Clyde’s back rent, the attorney negotiated an agreement to stop the eviction in exchange for a lump sum payment for most of the unpaid rent, plus a payment plan to cover the remainder. With his housing stabilized, Clyde was able to focus on his health needs.
Growing up in a community influenced by gangs, “Carl” was expelled from middle school. Later incarcerated for a juvenile offense, Carl began working with a TeamChild® attorney – partially funded by U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevent – to plan his release and return to school. His attorney successfully advocated for his readmission. When other students threatened Carl he sought help from school administrators who responded by expelling him. His attorney successfully represented him at the hearing and Carl finished the semester. Fearful of the gangs, he left Washington state to live with relatives, and pursue a GED and Job Corps training program. Denied admission because of his juvenile record, his lawyer stepped in yet again, to appeal and document Carl’s determination to get back on track. Job Corps reversed their decision. Carl got his GED and is working hard towards his auto mechanic certificate.
“Frank,” a disabled man living in U.S. Department of Agriculture-subsidized housing in rural Iowa, received an eviction notice from his landlord after neighbors complained that he yelled too much, especially late at night. Attempts by the property manager to talk to Frank about the problem only made it worse. Fearing that he would become homeless, Frank sought help from Legal Services Corporation-funded Iowa Legal Aid. With support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Emergency Solutions Grant, Iowa Legal Aid could assist him. Frank’s lawyer realized that his disruptive behavior flowed from untreated mental illness. She met with his property manager and reached out to other professionals to help Frank manage his mental illness. They collaborated on a plan to address the problems and involve his case manager as an intermediary if an issue arose. The property manager agreed to dismiss the eviction, and Frank remained in his home.
“Alex” sought help from Legal Services Corporation-funded Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County because of medical debt that threatened his family with bankruptcy. Unable to purchase affordable insurance in the private market because of his pre-existing condition, Alex’s debt had accrued after several emergency room visits for a severe heart condition that required surgery he could not afford. In addition to helping negotiate his medical bills with the hospital and avoid bankruptcy, his legal aid attorney – thanks in part to support from the Affordable Care Act Consumer Assistance Program funds – helped identify affordable insurance options through California’s Covered CA and new adult Medicaid expansion programs that will help Alex get the surgery he desperately needs.