PRESS RELEASE: Two Major Victories for Homeowners and Immigrant New Yorkers in a Difficult Budget Year

Kristin Brown April 01, 2019


For immediate release: 4/01/19                                                       

Contact: Kristin Brown – 518-852-5766


Empire Justice Center has been successful in two hard-fought victories in the 2019-2020 State Budget; the restoration of $20 million in funding for essential services related to foreclosure prevention, and the inclusion of $11 million for legal assistance for immigrant New Yorkers facing deportation and other legal challenges. Neither proposal was included in the initial budget.


“It was down to the wire,” said Kristin Brown, Vice President for Policy & Government Relations at Empire Justice Center, a statewide civil legal aid organization. “But in the end it’s clear that the vital, life-changing nature of the type of advocacy done by organizations across the state was recognized as essential. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and our Legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, for coming together to craft solutions that ensure New York immigrants and homeowners will continue to have access to the help they need. This will make a difference in so many people’s lives,” she said.


Foreclosure Prevention:

“We know it was not easy to find funding for these foreclosure prevention services,” said Kirsten Keefe, Senior Attorney at Empire Justice Center. “We are proud of the work that the statewide Communities First campaign did to shed a light on the specific service needs of each area of the state which helped to educate lawmakers about why the funding was so desperately needed.  We are particularly appreciative of the support of Assemblymembers Weinstein, Peoples-Stokes, Dinowitz, Cymbrowitz,  along with Senators Krueger, Hoylman and Kavanaugh for the network of 89 housing counselling and legal services providers as well as the homeowners we help all across the state,” she said. “We are also incredibly grateful to Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Leticia James for coming to the table with resources to make this happen. We look forward to another year of saving homes and supporting neighborhood economic recovery.”


Legal Services for Immigrants:

The final budget also included $11 million in funding in the Office of New Americans budget, providing resources for desperately needed legal assistance across the state. This is the third year in which funds have been made available to the agency for these services.


“This is important funding that makes free, quality legal assistance available to immigrant communities across the state. We know that New York families are being torn apart on a daily basis thanks to the targeting tactics the Trump Administration is using,” said Michelle Caldera-Kopf, Project Director for Empire Justice Center’s Liberty Defense Project.  “The need is vast, and Empire Justice Center is grateful to Governor Cuomo and our Legislative Leaders for investing additional resources to help protect the rights of immigrant New Yorkers and to keep our vibrant, diverse communities whole.”


Read more about our 2019 State Legislative Priorities here.

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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.