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PRESS RELEASE: Jill Paperno Joins Empire Justice Center as New Civil Rights Practice Senior Litigator

Posted on May 12th, 2022

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2022

Contact: Kristin Brown, President and CEO, kbrown@empirejustice.org  515-852-5766

Jill Paperno Joins Empire Justice Center as New Civil Rights Practice Senior Litigator

 Rochester, NY– Empire Justice Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Jill Paperno as the new Senior Civil Rights Litigator in its civil rights practice. Prior to joining Empire Justice Center, Paperno served in various roles within the Monroe County Public Defenders’ office for over 35 years, most recently as the acting Monroe County Public Defender.

“I am thrilled to be joining Empire Justice Center,” said Paperno. “I am looking forward to working with the civil rights practice group and continuing to serve our clients and our community.”

A respected fixture in the Rochester community, Jill Paperno, brings her wealth of knowledge and advocacy experience within marginalized communities, and a client-centered approach to representation to the organization. In addition to her time with the Public Defenders’ office, Paperno has worked within the legal community to seek justice and promote antiracism through her involvement in the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys (GRAWA), The Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA), and the development of the Lawyers’ Coalition for Racial and Social Justice, a collaboration between GRAWA, MCBA, and the Rochester Black Bar association. When serving as President of the MCBA, Paperno collaborated with the Board to form the MCBA’s President’s Commission on Antiracism.

“Jill Paperno has dedicated her life and career to advocating for marginalized communities and challenging racial and social injustice in our systems and institutions, and I could not be more thrilled that she has chosen to bring her experience and dedication to the growing civil rights practice of the Empire Justice Center in Rochester,” said Erin E. Elmouji, Empire Justice Board Member and Civil Litigator at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP.

Starting in the fall, Jill will be leading the expansion of Empire Justice Center’s civil rights work to include a focus on police reform and handling police misconduct cases. She will work alongside Empire Justice Center’s stellar civil rights team: Unit Director and Senior Attorney Maggie Robb, Senior Attorney Peter Dellinger, Senior Attorney Melinda Fithen, Senior Manager of Language Access Marlene Cortés, LGBTQ Rights Staff Attorney Lettie Dickerson, Staff Attorney Katie Blum, and Paralegal Heidi Griffith. Paperno’s trial experience and subject matter expertise will further develop Empire Justice Center’s civil rights work and response to the critical need to challenge unjust police practices in Rochester and in New York State. Under her guidance, Empire Justice Center is exploring the addition of criminal justice to the scope of its civil rights work, which currently includes class action litigation, individual representation, and policy advocacy for New Yorkers experiencing discrimination in education, employment, housing, and places of public accommodation, as well as those needing language access and LGBTQ rights advocacy.

“I am thrilled. Jill will bring passion and deep expertise to round out Empire Justice Center’s civil rights practice. Her addition to the organization will strengthen the efforts of our mission to make the law work for all New Yorkers,” said Kristin Brown, President and CEO of Empire Justice Center.

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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.


Disability Law News – April 2022

Posted on May 2nd, 2022

The Disability Law News is a quarterly newsletter published for DAP Advocates. In this issue, Social Security Administration’s office reopened in April and we continue to monitor complications and provide contacts to report problems accessing local field offices and telephone issues. In the case of Puerto Rico’s exclusion from SSI, The Supreme Court has issued it’s decision in U.S. v. Vaello-Madero. We take a look at the decision and give our analysis. Also in this issue are new regulations and several new court decisions.

 


STATEMENT: 2022 State Budget

Posted on April 11th, 2022

 

For Immediate Release: April 11, 2022

Contact: Kristin Brown, President and CEO, kbrown@empirejustice.org

 

 

2022 State Budget:

Good Budget for Many Programs Benefitting Low-Income New Yorkers; Must Do More for Immigrants

 

“This year’s budget process was demonstrably different than the previous fifteen, resulting in a number of key investments. I appreciate the Governor proactively including programs benefitting low-income New Yorkers, and the legislature’s steadfast support. In some issue areas where we saw progress, Empire Justice Center attorneys and staff have worked on them for a close to a decade. Increased funding for disability appeals advocacy, eviction and foreclosure prevention, and consumer health advocacy will meaningfully help more people receive the right kind of services they need. Going forward, we must focus on raising the cash grant for public benefits recipients, overhauling unfair unemployment overpayment rules, and be inclusive of all immigrant New Yorkers. I also want to extend my gratitude to Assembly Health Chair Dick Gottfried as he serves his last term this year. It was my privilege to have worked with one of the most devoted and knowledgeable legislators to advance so many important services for client communities across New York State,” said Kristin Brown, President and CEO of Empire Justice Center.

As a public interest law firm that advocates for low-income New Yorkers, Empire Justice Center worked hard with colleagues, legislators, and the Governor’s office on a number of budget proposals. Several programs and policy bills deserve special mention:

 

Funding Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP)

We are thankful to Governor Hochul for including $20 million for the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) in the initial budget for the first time, and for the Legislature for including additional funding of $15 million to meet the increased need for services. The historic increase in funding will help homeowners negotiate with their lenders and ultimately stay in their homes. We want to give special thanks to Senate and Assembly Housing Chairs, Brian Kavanagh and Steve Cymbrowitz, as well as Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger and Assembly Ways & Means Chair Helene Weinstein, who have all been steadfast supporters. We are also especially pleased with the Governor’s stewardship in including the program in the initial budget.

 

Upstate and Long Island Eviction Defense

Eviction Defense funding of $35 million for services outside of New York City will provide a lifeline for renters in upstate and Long Island who are struggling to stay in their homes. As legal service providers, we work directly with tenants in need of representation, and worked to ensure an equitable distribution method. We are grateful for Senator Ryan’s leadership.

 

Timely Increases for Community Health Advocates (CHA) and the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP)

Community Health Advocates (CHA) will, for the first time, be able to provide services to all New Yorkers, including people who rely on Medicaid. We appreciate the increase in funding from the Governor and the Legislature, which will allow CHA to help every New Yorker save money on bills, navigate complicated insurance coverage, and handle appeals, during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed great health disparities and financial barriers across our communities. Thank you to the Governor, Assemblymember Gottfried, and Senator Gustavo Rivera, without whose support the program would be impossible.

The Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) provides representation for low-income New Yorkers who have been denied federal disability benefits, which is the sole source of income for many low-income families. Thanks to an additional $2.63 million proposed by Governor Hochul in the Executive budget, and a $1 million add-on from the Legislature, DAP will be funded at $12.52 million. This means DAP will be better able to tackle the backlog of Social Security claims caused by the long-term physical closure of Social Security offices, and rising claims beginning to be filed by New Yorkers who have become disabled due to Long COVID. We are very pleased that the Legislature and the Governor are recognizing the challenges faced by disabled and senior low-income New Yorkers. Thank you to Senate and Assembly Social Services Chairs, Roxanne Persaud and Linda Rosenthal, for pushing for this important funding.

And a special thank you to Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, who founded DAP in 1983 and has been a champion for the program for almost forty years. We will miss Assemblymember Gottfried’s expertise, advocacy and ardent support for programs benefiting the poorest New Yorkers.

 

Language Access

We appreciate the Governor, Assemblymember Joyner and Senator Ryan for making New York more inclusive for immigrants. The budget codifies and expands prior executive orders requiring state agencies providing direct public services to translate vital documents into the 12 most common non-English languages in the state. In addition, agencies may offer four additional languages based on regional needs in New York state. This law means immigrants who speak Urdu and French, common languages for immigrants originally from Southeast Asia and African communities, will now have access to vital documents they understand, in addition to the ten languages that are already codified presently.

 

Expansion of the Gender Recognition Act

We were very pleased, along with other members of the Gender Recognition Act Coalition, including the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Legal Services NYC, the NYCLU, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Legal Aid NYC, and Arrowood Law, to help shape provisions in the budget to create new X gender marker options for all state agencies, and to ensure that transgender, nonbinary, and intersex New Yorkers are able to update their marriage certificates. Thank you to Governor Hochul, Senator Krueger, and to central staff in the Senate and Assembly for working with us.

 

Public Benefits

We are thrilled to finally see the elimination of the 185% of the standard of need test for very low-income New Yorkers who receive public benefits. This rule will result in a modest increase in the net amount of money very poor New Yorkers can receive each month. In most counties, “185% of the standard of need” is well below 70% of the Federal Poverty level. With other advocates, Empire Justice Center has advocated for this change for almost a decade, including in our testimony this year to the Human Services Budget Committee, and we are glad to see this change that means having food, gas, and shelter for the poorest New Yorkers. We now need to work on increasing the grant level for the next fiscal year. We appreciate the Governor and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal for their hard work on this issue.

 

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To find out more about Empire Justice Center, visit our website, www.empirejustice.org. To learn more about our policy and legislative advocacy, follow our monthly newsletter, Policy Matters.

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.

 


Policy Matters – March 2022

Posted on March 31st, 2022

 

Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. In this edition we’ll cover the rapidly approaching end of budget season, an important settlement for students with disabilities in Rochester, crime victims advocacy trainings, and a last chance at free tax preparation help for folks in Rochester. You can read an archived version here.

 

Heading Towards the Budget Finish Line…

The hours and minutes are ticking down to the passage of the final budget bills, and we’re continuing our advocacy for numerous programs and proposals.

We were very pleased to see the funding for the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), which provides legal representation to New Yorkers facing foreclosure, in both the Senate and Assembly one house bills. We are also continuing to push strongly on our funding asks for both the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP), which helps New Yorkers through the federal disability appeals process, and the Consumer Health Advocates (CHA), which helps New Yorkers navigate health insurance, medical debt, and disability appeals.

We’re also continuing to push to Fund the Gap – to provide funding to plug a temporary gap in funding for crime victims legal services across the state. While the Executive provided $14.4 million in the 30-Day Amendments, a total of $25 million is needed to ensure that program services for victims of crime are not cut.

For years now we have advocated for a number of common-sense updates to public benefits programs to ensure that more folks can get the help they need when they need it.  The Executive and the Legislature have introduced a number of proposals that could address some of these perennial issues, including doing away with the 45-day waiting period for Safety Net Assistance, increasing the earnings disregard for New Yorkers without children, and putting in place a 12-month work exemption for parents and caregivers to those providing care for a child under one year of age.

We are also supporting the proposal for a transgender & nonbinary (TGNB) wellness fund, which would fund services and programs by and for the TGNB community in New York State.

We’ll have more to share on these, and other budget campaigns, once the State Budget is finalized.

 

Consent Decree Reached for Students With Disabilities

Empire Justice Center and Nixon Peabody announced earlier this month that a federal court has approved an Amended Consent Decree that further resolves claims in a lawsuit brought by a class of students with disabilities in the Rochester City School District and their families to secure the District’s compliance with special education laws. The Decree requires the School District to meet objective goals that demonstrate continual measurable progress in providing timely services, improving achievement and graduation rates, eliminating racial disparities in classification and suspension, and increasing involvement with parents of students with disabilities.

“This case has always been about students with disabilities and their families,” said Senior Attorney, Maggie Robb, in an article by WXXI. “We want them to know that we are here to help enforce their civil rights so they can achieve academic success and prepare for life beyond high school.”

You can learn more about this important case and the effects it will have on students with disabilities in this interview of Legal Director Jonathan Feldman, who also worked on the case, by David Lombardo on the Capitol Pressroom.

 

Crime Victims Advocacy Webinars

New York Crime Victims Legal Help will be hosting two noteworthy webinars in April to mark Crime Victims’ Rights Week:

 

Last Chance for Tax Help From CASH

WROC Channel 8 in Rochester did a story on our CASH program, highlighting the importance of professional tax help for low income families and individuals, and interviewed the Director of CASH, Yversha Roman.

“It’s super important to seek professional help and guidance. Right now we are still even looking for clients or individual community members who haven’t claimed their child tax credits because every year tax laws and credits change, it can become very confusing,” Roman said.

If you’re in the Rochester area you can schedule your appointment for free tax preparation today, including for 2018, 2019, or 2020 returns. Call 585-900-1004 or visit https://empirejustice.org/cash for more information.

 

Thank You For Reading

If you’d like to keep up with our policy work, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or visit the Policy Central page on our website.

You can find all of our COVID-19 free legal resources on our website, and if you need help, you can find contact information for each of our offices here.

 

The Empire Justice Policy Team

 

 

 

 


PRESS RELEASE: Consent Decree Approved in Class Action Disability Suit Against Rochester City School District

Posted on March 10th, 2022

 

For Immediate Release: March 9, 2022

Contact for Empire Justice Center:

Maggie R. Robb

mrobb@empirejustice.org

(585) 295-5724

 

Contact for Nixon Peabody LLP:

Carolyn Nussbaum

cnussbaum@nixonpeabody.com

(585) 263-1558 

 

 PRESS RELEASE: Consent Decree Approved in Class Action Disability Suit Against Rochester City School District

March 9, 2022 – Nixon Peabody and Empire Justice Center are honored to announce the federal court has approved an Amended Consent Decree that further resolves claims in a lawsuit brought by a class of students with disabilities in the Rochester City School District and their families to secure the District’s compliance with special education laws.  The settlement is an important step in helping Rochester City School District students with disabilities thrive and succeed on an equitable basis.  The Decree requires the School District to meet objective goals that demonstrate continual measurable progress in providing timely services, improving achievement and graduation rates, eliminating racial disparities in classification and suspension, and increasing involvement with parents of students with disabilities.

“The heart of this case has always been about helping students with disabilities thrive in Rochester schools.  Empire Justice Center took on the case with a singular focus of ensuring that every student with disabilities in the District has meaningful opportunities for success and resources available to them.  Now our focus turns to implementation based on the Decree.  Years of hard work and collaboration between the parties will see fruition only if the School District continues to faithfully implement changes to achieve the negotiated measures,” said Maggie Robb, Senior Attorney at Empire Justice Center.

“We have been privileged to partner with Empire Justice Center to achieve a settlement that we believe will significantly enhance the equitable education of students with disabilities.  Our goal has always been to secure compliance with the law that ensures that these students are provided with a free appropriate public education that is tailored to their individual needs.  The years of effort by all parties must continue as the success of this settlement requires that the District make students with disabilities and their families a priority,” said Carolyn Nussbaum of Nixon Peabody LLP, who provided her time and litigation counsel on a pro bono basis.

 

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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. For more information, please visit empirejustice.org.

 


Policy Matters – February 2022

Posted on February 28th, 2022

Welcome to the February edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. In this edition we cover progress in plugging the funding gap for Crime Victims Services, our Housing and Human Services budget testimony, rallies to support health care coverage for all, and a push for equitable credit reporting for trans and nonbinary folks. You can read an archived version of the newsletter here.

 

Promising Progress for Crime Victims Services Funding

The budget process carries on, as the 30-Day Amendments have come and we now await the release of the One House Budgets sometime next month.

For legal services programs across the state, the 30-Day Amendments brought some measure of relief regarding the looming $26 million gap in funding for Crime Victims Services – an amendment to include $14.4 million help plug the gap. This gap is due to a temporary cut in Federal funding, and without closing this gap most providers will need to cut program services before full federal funding kicks back in.

We’re grateful to Governor Hochul for responding to this funding crisis, and we’re now looking to the Legislature to step up and fund the remainder.

 

Budget Testimony

We also continued our budget advocacy through the joint legislative hearings – Senior Attorney Kirsten Keefe prepared and submitted our Housing budget testimony on January 31, which covered the importance of fully funding the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) as New York State faces extremely high mortgage delinquency rates, especially for homeowners of color.

Emilia Sicilia, Statewide DAP Coordinator, delivered our Human Services budget testimony to the hearing on February 2. This testimony was prepared by Emilia, Senior Benefits Attorney Susan Antos, Health Attorney Alexia Mickles, and Senior Health Attorney Fiona Wolfe. This testimony covered a number of areas, with these three main requests:

 

Coverage For All

Immigrant advocates in New York City, Long Island, and Yonkers held rallies on February 18 to push legislators to pass the Coverage for All bill (A.880-A/S.1572-A)

Coverage for All would expand health care coverage to all New Yorkers by creating a state-funded health coverage option for all New Yorkers with income up to 200% of the federal poverty line, regardless of immigration status.

Empire Justice is a member of the robust coalition of community members, community organizations, health care providers, legal services providers, and labor, immigrant, and health care consumer advocates pushing this bill, and Senior Paralegal, Cheryl Keshner, was among the advocates quoted in a Harlem World Magazine article about the demonstrations: “Coverage for All will improve and expand access to essential and lifesaving healthcare for countless immigrants in New York State. This is a public health issue and will benefit all members of our community.”

 

Making Credit More Equitable

Transgender and nonbinary consumers face myriad credit reporting problems after a legal name change, with serious consequences for their financial and personal lives.

These issues can stop trans and nonbinary people from accessing banking services, mortgages, rental housing, auto financing, and even employment.

On February 24, we joined 145 LGBTQI, consumer, and antipoverty organizations in sending a letter to the largest credit consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and the Consumer Data Industry Association, urging action to fix these problems with five concrete steps, outlined in the letter.

 

Advocacy for Systemic Change

Manager for Policy & Communications, Eòghann Renfroe, will be presenting NYTAG Conversations: Advocacy for Systemic Policy Change on Monday Feb 28, at 7:00 PM.

This presentation, in partnership with the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) is for folks who want to learn how to translate personal or individual advocacy into systemic policy change advocacy – changing the systems and laws in which we live for the better.

NYTAG Conversations is a free conversation and workshop series for transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary community members and accomplices. Register here.

 

CASH Is Helping Rochester Residents

We are proud to announce that CASH has already helped Rochester residents claim $2 million in Federal and State Refunds in the first 3 weeks of tax season!

“Just three weeks into the tax season it has been remarkable to watch our staff and volunteers work alongside our clients to connect them to the tax credits they have earned while saving them over $175,000 in processing fees,” said CASH Director, Yversha Roman. “As we know, every dollar back into the hands of our families equates to more secure housing, food on the table, and overall financial health.”

If you’re in the Rochester area you can schedule your appointment for free tax preparation today! Call 585-900-1004 or visit https://empirejustice.org/cash for more information.

 

Legal Help Line

Don’t forget! Our Long Island Immigration Legal Help Line is available every Tuesday from 2:00-4:00 pm, at 631-533-2238 to speak to an immigration attorney from Empire Justice Center who will answer your questions on your legal rights. You can also email us at EJCimmigrationhotline@gmail.com to make an appointment. ¡Se habla Español!

 

Thank You For Reading

If you’d like to keep up with our policy work, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or visit the Policy Central page on our website.

You can find all of our COVID-19 free legal resources on our website, and if you need help, you can find contact information for each of our offices here.

 

The Empire Justice Policy Team

 


PRESS RELEASE: $2 million in Federal and State Tax Returns claimed by Rochester residents through the CASH program

Posted on February 16th, 2022

For Immediate Release: February 16, 2022

Contact: Lacie White, CASH Marketing Communications Manager, lwhite@empirejustice.org

 

$2 million in Federal and State Tax Returns

claimed by Rochester residents through the CASH program

Free tax-prep service available for low-income Rochester residents

 

 

Rochester, NY– Since opening on January 24th, families in the Rochester community have claimed over $2 million in Federal and State Tax Refunds through the CASH program. CASH is open for in-person and virtual tax preparation services with the help of over 80 volunteers, interns, and staff members who have contributed over 2000 hours and prepared over 500 returns in the first three weeks of opening.

 

“Just three weeks into the tax season it has been remarkable to watch our staff and volunteers work alongside our clients to connect them to the tax credits they have earned while saving them over $175,000 in processing fees,” said CASH Director, Yversha Roman. “As we know, every dollar back into the hands of our families equates to more secure housing, food on the table, and overall financial health.”

 

CASH (Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope) is a community coalition led by the Empire Justice Center.  CASH partners with over 40 organizations, including United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes, to offer free high-quality tax return preparation services that make tax filing easy to do and understand. These services ensure that Monroe County residents collect all the tax credits for which they are eligible, including the Advanced Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. In addition to providing year-round tax advice and preparation, CASH connects clients to community partners with resources that can improve their financial well-being. These services include savings programs, health care, financial literacy, public benefits, and job counseling.

 

“We are proud to be able to support CASH and help directly combat some of the challenges of poverty we face as a region,” said Jaime Saunders, President, and CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. “Thank you to the hundreds of dedicated volunteers working at the C.A.S.H. sites, and to our donors who help to make these tax preparation and financial security programs possible, so working families get the money they deserve in tax returns and Earned Income Tax Credits.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, CASH is accommodating clients by appointment only. To schedule an appointment call 585-900-1004 or visit https://cashtaxprep2021.as.me/TaxPrep. Visit the website at https://empirejustice.org/cash/  for more information on available services and to learn more about how to volunteer with CASH.

 

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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. Learn more about CASH at empirejustice.org/cash. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 


Policy Matters – January 2022

Posted on January 31st, 2022

 

Welcome to the January edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. In this edition we cover the Executive budget, offer a preview of upcoming benefits legislation, our joint budget hearing testimony, a push for public banks, a victory for consumers, and the opening of free tax prep for Rochester-area folks. You can read an archived version here.

 

Executive Budget

Budget season is in full swing with the release of the Executive Budget (and the accompanying Briefing Book) last week, following the State of the State address at the beginning of the month.

For Empire Justice, the highlights of the Executive budget are:

We are also pleased at the Governor’s State of the State proposal to create a new office of language access.

One important thing missing from the Executive budget is gap funding for Crime Victims Services. The Office of Victims Services (OVS) has told providers to expect a 10-15% cut, due to a temporary reduction in federal funding. We are pushing for the inclusion of gap funding of $25 million dollars a year for three years to keep Crime Victims Services funded at the same level until the federal funding fully resolves.

 

Omnibus Benefits Legislation Is Coming…

Stay tuned in the coming days for some major policy updates in public benefits! Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal is championing a package that will help New Yorkers with basic necessities such as food and shelter.

 

Joint Legislative Budget Hearings

The Legislature has begun its joint legislative hearing process, and our President and CEO, Kristin Brown, submitted testimony before our first hearing, Public Protection, on January 25. We are requesting:

We will also be submitting testimony by Senior Attorney Kirsten Keefe to the Housing hearing on January 31. Emilia Sicilia, statewide coordinator for the DAP program, will be testifying at the Human Services hearing on February 2.

 

Pushing for Public Banking

Even before COVID-19 gripped our communities, New York faced widening income inequality, banking deserts, and lack of financial and lending opportunities, especially for communities of color. As New York moves toward a post-COVID future, local governments need a new tool to ensure a just recovery for all New Yorkers – public banks.

That is why we signed onto a letter of support with over 150 other advocacy groups calling for the passage of the New York Public Banking Act (S.1762-A Sanders/A.8290 Fahy).

“Our organizations are fighting for public banks that have a clear mission to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice,” the letter supporting the New York Public Banking Act states. “With these principles at their core, public banks would reinvest in New York’s low-income and immigrant neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, meeting critical community needs and strengthening our ability to withstand future crises.”

 

Victory for Consumers

We had one last 2021 victory when Governor Hochul signed the Consumer Judgement Interest Act (S.5724-A Parke /A.6474-A Weinstein) on December 31. This law will now protect New Yorkers from excessive interest rate on money judgments arising out of consumer debt, including medical and student debt, by capping judgment interest rates to two percent.

Thanks again to sponsors Assemblymember Helene Weinstein and Senator Kevin Thomas!

 

CASH Is Open For Tax Season!

If you’re in the Rochester area you can schedule your appointment for free tax preparation today! Call 585-900-1004 or visit https://empirejustice.org/cash for more information.

 

Immigration Help Line

Don’t forget! Our Long Island Immigration Legal Help Line is available every Tuesday from 2:00-4:00 pm, at 631-533-2238 to speak to an immigration attorney from Empire Justice Center who will answer your questions on your legal rights. You can also email us at EJCimmigrationhotline@gmail.com to make an appointment. ¡Se habla Español!

 

Thank You For Reading

If you’d like to keep up with our policy work, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or visit the Policy Central page on our website.

You can find all of our COVID-19 free legal resources on our website, and if you need help, you can find contact information for each of our offices here.

 

The Empire Justice Policy Team

 

 

 

 

 


Disability Law News – January 2022

Posted on January 30th, 2022

The Disability Law News is a quarterly newsletter published for DAP Advocates. In this issue, Social Security Administration’s office remain closed and we discuss progress in SSA’s move towards “reentry”. The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in U.S. v. Vaello-Madero that challenges the constitutionality of the exclusion of residents of Puerto Rico from the SSI program and appears posed to overturn the First Circuits decision. Also in this issue are several studies and reports from the GAO and OIG. Finally, several new Regulations and Administrative Decisions are included in this issue.

 

 


PRESS RELEASE: The CASH Program is open for the 2022 tax season

Posted on January 24th, 2022

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2022

Contact: Lacie White, CASH Marketing Communications Manager, lwhite@empirejustice.org

 

The CASH Program is Open for the 2022 Tax Season

 

Rochester, NY– On January 24th, CASH will open for in-person and virtual tax preparation services. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, CASH will be accommodating clients by appointment only. Visit the website at https://empirejustice.org/cash/  for more information on available services.

 

“We look forward to continuing to serve the community through our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program,” said CASH Director, Yversha Roman. “During a global pandemic, we helped our clients claim over 3-million dollars in tax credits while connecting them to various community resources. As we launch our tax preparation season, I would like to thank our community partners, volunteers, and staff for all the work that has been done thus far to make our site safe and accessible.”

 

Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope (CASH), a community coalition led by Empire Justice Center, has been a long-standing staple in the Rochester community. CASH offers free high-quality tax return preparation services that make tax filing easy to do and understand. These services ensure that people in our community collect all credits for which they are eligible. Monroe County Residents with children who make less than $58,000 are eligible for free tax preparation and may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. CASH provides year-round tax advice and preparation and uses the “tax return moment” as an opportunity to connect clients with a wide variety of resources that can improve families’ financial wellbeing including, savings programs, health care, financial literacy, public benefits, and job counseling services.

 

“At CASH we know the impact that our tax preparation services have on our families, not just in the tax season but throughout the year,” said Ellen Oberton, VITA Program Manager. “Although the pandemic has changed how we reach our clients we are excited to offer the option to use our online services or to make in-person appointments to keep everyone safe.”

To schedule an appointment call 585-900-1004 or visit https://cashtaxprep2021.as.me/TaxPrep. For more information on this year’s Tax Season visit the website https://empirejustice.org/cash/tax-prep/.

 

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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. Learn more about CASH at empirejustice.org/cash. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter