NEWSLETTER: Policy Matters, October 2017

Policy Central October 31, 2017

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Happy Halloween.  Our policy team has been hard at work bringing our organization’s priorities together, and we will have them for you soon.  You can expect a concise plan that will tackle the issues low income people are facing today, highlighting a path to make the law work for all New Yorkers.

Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year marked the 30th anniversary.  Did you go purple to show your support and solidarity with survivors?

We updated our brochures on access to Family Courts for limited English proficient domestic violence survivors, adding a French translation.  This brings the total to 8 languages, and includes Arabic, English, Haitian Creole, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish.  These brochures help advocates communicate with clients and go a long way in eliminating barriers to justice here in New York.

The Crime Victims Legal Network continues to build its website, which will include a triage tool, know your rights resources and other information on services victims of crime, including domestic violence survivors, will find helpful.  This is according to a new blog post from Project Leader Remla Parthasarathy.  Client and provider volunteers are needed for the Community Insight Group- please get in touch with Remla to volunteer!

Public Benefits
Hunger Solutions New York updated the SNAP eligibility worksheet, and provided a full tool kit for applicants and advocates.  The updated materials went into effect on October 1 and are good through September 31, 2018.  HSNY reports that some families could see a small decrease in their benefits starting October 1st, so the tool kit is full of information and resources on how to maximize your SNAP benefits.

HSNY has also issued a policy update outlining SNAP application rules for people that evacuated to New York State because of hurricanes Maria, Irma or Harvey.  Puerto Rico has its own food assistance program called the Nutrition Assistance Program, which differs from SNAP, but people arriving from Puerto Rico cannot use their NAP benefits here in New York State.  The USDA has instructed that these evacuees should apply for SNAP according to the regular program rules- please see the policy update for more information.

Consumer Issues
We co-hosted a home fair with the Monroe County Vacant and Abandoned Task Force (which we co-chair), along with other local programs.  The home fair offered workshops and information on homeownership and tenants’ rights, as well as home rehabilitation.  Held at the Gates Community Center outside of Rochester, hundreds of people attended throughout the day, making it a big success and hopefully the first of many annual fairs.

We co-sponsored the 2017 Monroe County Elder Law Fair along with AARP, Legal Assistance of Western New York, Lifespan, the Monroe County Bar Association and the Monroe County Office for the Aging.  Participants learned about adult guardianship, Medicare basics, Long Term Care and even estate planning, just to name a few of the workshops available.

In other news…
We published a pro se guide to name and gender marker changes for transgender residents of greater Monroe County.

Managing Attorney Don Friedman and HOPP Regional Coordinator Maria DeGennaro were thrilled to present at the Keys for the Homeless Conference.

In a huge blow, Congress voted to strike down a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that would have given consumers their right to a day in court against big banks and other corporate entities.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced its decision to add a preferred language question to the redesigned Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) by the end of 2017.

That’s all for now!  We’ll be back next month with more updates, but until then, keep track of us on Facebook and Twitter!

The Policy Team at Empire Justice Center