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Policy Matters – February 2023

Posted on February 28th, 2023

Welcome to the February edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. In this edition we cover absent funding for foreclosure prevention, wins and misses in the Executive Budget, budget testimony on Human Services and Taxes, the launch of our Police Reform Project, and recognition for Empire Justice staff members.

Read the full newsletter: Policy Matters – February 2023

Empire Justice Condemns Cutting Support for Struggling Homeowners in the Executive Budget

Posted on February 3rd, 2023

For Immediate Release                     

February 3, 2023

For More Information Contact Alex Dery Snider:

Aderysnider@empirejustice.org  518-462-6831







Statement from Empire Justice Center President and CEO Kristin Brown on Governor Hochul’s executive budget: 

“While we were grateful to see positive steps – including the continued funding of important programs that provide legal assistance to low income New Yorkers like the Disability Advocacy Program, Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program, and Community Health Advocates; indexing of the minimum wage; and addressing “skimming” of public benefits  – there were a number of notable gaps, including increasing the Shelter Allowance and Cash Assistance grant levels, which are woefully out of date. Additionally, Empire Justice advocates are shocked to see that funding for foreclosure prevention through the Homeowners Protection Program (HOPP) was cut entirely from the executive budget. The lack of support to current homeowners is especially concerning given the Governor’s historic commitment to build 800,000 new homes in every part of the state.  Last year’s budget included $35 million. 


HOPP is New York State’s only homeowner retention program. It funds 89 non-profits providing housing counseling and legal services to distressed homeowners in every county of the state since 2012. More than 275,000 New York homeowners currently report being behind on their mortgage according to U.S. Census data and that is not counting families facing tax foreclosure. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated issues for homeowners especially in Black and Brown communities. Post-pandemic assistance programs are helpful but complicated to navigate and even tougher with recent interest rate hikes.  After a decade of building the HOPP network, passing laws to help homeowners that depend on HOPP services, and given the historic push to increase the housing stock, getting rid of services that help current homeowners will be disastrous for families, the courts, and communities. Historically, each $1 million invested in HOPP yields a return of over $5 million in tax and property cost savings.  


Cutting HOPP would be devastating for struggling homeowners and their communities. We call on the Governor to restore funding in a 30-day amendment and we ask for total funding of $40 million to support this crucial program.”


About Empire Justice Center

Empire Justice Center is a statewide nonprofit law firm with offices in Rochester, Albany, Yonkers, White Plains, and on Long Island whose mission is to make the law work for all New Yorkers, particularly for those who need its protection most. We take a 360-degree, comprehensive approach to changing systems by engaging in three major and interconnected areas of service. We teach the law by providing training, support and technical assistance to legal services and other community-based organizations to strengthen their work; we practice the law by providing direct, civil legal assistance to low-income people with a particular focus on those from marginalized communities such as LGBTQ; minorities, immigrants and LEP; and crime victims; and we change the law by engaging in policy analysis, research and advocacy and undertaking impact litigation to get at the root of systemic issues.




Read the Statement as a PDF

Empire Justice Center Condemns the Murder of Tyre Nichols

Posted on February 1st, 2023

Empire Justice Center Condemns the Murder of Tyre Nichols

No one should die as a result of a traffic stop. Empire Justice Center joins with organizations and individuals across the country in condemning the killing of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers.

On January 10th, Tyre Nichols became one in a horrifically long list of young Black men, women, and children whose lives were ended in confrontations with police over traffic and other low-level stops. But we must not let the numbers numb us to his humanity.  Mr. Nichols was a photographer, a dreamer, a father, and a son. Some will try to explain or justify his death. We urge you to remember who he was. His photography website is here:  https://thiscaliforniakid2.wixsite.com/tnicholsphotography

As we mourn the loss of another young Black man in a police confrontation, we must also press for change. Empire Justice Center’s Police Reform Project takes our first step in seeking change in New York, issuing a preliminary report last week, “STOP THE STOPS – The Disparate Use and Impact of Police Pretext Stops on Individuals and Communities of Color.” We invite you view the report and join us in one of the ways listed on our webpage.


View This Statement as a PDF.




Empire Justice Center is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy, public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low-income families live. Empire Justice protects and strengthens the legal rights of people in New York State who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised through: systems change advocacy, training and support to other advocates and organizations, and high quality direct civil legal representation. Empire Justice has offices in Albany, Rochester, Yonkers, White Plains and Central Islip on Long Island. For more information, please visit empirejustice.org.