Fall 2020
Law Services News
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Stable Housing Essential to Pandemic Recovery and Racial Justice

Long Island is simultaneously facing the end of the eviction and foreclosure moratoria and the financial supports that have helped many Long Islanders to continue to pay their housing expenses. Communities across Long Island and the country are calling out for racial justice and an eviction and foreclosure crisis looms. Law Services is here to help tenants and homeowners facing loss of their housing. Stable housing is not only critical to supporting strong communities, it is also a racial justice issue and the foundation of individual well-being.
Nassau Suffolk Law Services has been busy during the pandemic.
Visit our website for updated FAQs for clients on changes in housing law and other issues.

COVID-19 and Students with Disabilities
Presented by Education and Disability Rights Project Senior Staff Attorney, Lynn Iacona
Friday, September 11, 10:00-11:00 am

What To Expect When Evictions Resume
Presented by Civil Unit Senior Staff Attorney, Marissa Luchs Kindler
Friday, September 25, 12:00-1:30 pm

Navigating the Uncertain Financial Future
with Clients
In Collaboration with NSLS Advisory Council Member, Leslie Tayne, Esq.
Friday, October 16, 12:00-1:00 pm

- Eviction from Section 8 Apartment Dismissed 
- Help for Homeowners: Foreclosure Unit Preserves Homeownership 
- Safe and Appropriate Housing for The Homeless Amid a Pandemic 
- Law Services and Nursing Home Ombudsmen Work Together to Support Residents Right to be “Home” 
- Developments in Criminal Law Allow People to Rebuild Lives 
  • Changes in Marijuana Law  
  • Sealed Criminal History 
  • Ban the Box 
- Low-Income Families with Financed Cars May Now be Eligible for Public Assistance 
- NSLS On the Move! 
- A Message from Our Executive Director 
Help for Homeowners and Renters
Final eviction notice posted on the door
Judy Hirshon, Staff Attorney in the Nassau Civil Unit, obtained summary judgment dismissing an eviction proceeding and preserving her client’s housing in a Section 8 project-based apartment. The landlord had started a holdover proceeding before the COVID-19 eviction moratoria. The landlord alleged that the tenant violated her lease by engaging in purported nuisance activityprimarily noise complaintsover a period of several years from 2014 to 2018, and then being arrested following a dispute with a neighbor in late 2018.  

Hirshon challenged the landlord's right to proceed on two points. First, the landlord had accepted rent and completed a recertification of the Section 8 project-based tenancy in October 2018. Hirshon argued that because the purported nuisance behavior occurred years earlier, the landlord had waived its right to terminate the current lease based on that behavior. The landlord's termination notice should be invalid as a result. In addition, the termination notice was defective because it failed to cite the specific lease clause making criminal activity a material lease violation. 

The Court largely agreed with Hirshon: It found that the landlord's termination notice was invalid because the landlord continued to accept rent and re-certified the client's assisted tenancy even though it knew about the purported nuisance behavior. However, the judge found that the same was not true as to the alleged criminal activity, which took place after the last recertification. The court distinguished the cases under the NYS Emergency Tenant Protection Act that require landlords to offer lease renewals, regardless of whether the landlord is pursuing eviction based on a current lease violation. Effectively, the court treated eviction and lease renewal as distinct acts. 

As to the arrest, the Court agreed with Hirshon that the landlord had to specify in its termination notice not only the criminal activity that allegedly took place, but the specific clause of the lease that authorized termination. In doing so, the Court relied primarily on the governing federal regulation, 24 C.F.R. 247.4, and the 1980 court of appeals decision, Chinatown Apts. v. Chu Cho Lam, 51 NY2d 786 (1980).
Safe and Appropriate Housing for The Homeless Amid a Pandemic

During the COVID pandemic, reasonable housing accommodations for people with physical and mental health impairments are critical. These accommodations are all the more important for people experiencing homelessness and seeking appropriate emergency shelter placements. V turned to our Public Benefits Unit after DSS refused to provide reasonable accommodations essential for her to live safely in emergency shelter. 

Over the past two years, V repeatedly provided DSS medical documentation demonstrating that she needed private living arrangements due to her severe anxiety, digestive disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When reminded of V's impairments, DSS temporarily relocated her to appropriate housing, but then returned her to another shared living arrangement. This pattern repeated itself several times. 

Then in the midst of the COVID pandemic, DSS refused to move V out of a placement she shared with 12 other women. Her doctor once again documented V’s need for a private living arrangement and added that her immune system is compromised by her underlying medical conditions. 

When the Public Benefits Unit intervened, DSS first claimed that it was doing the best that it could to locate private shelter housing. However, this explanation made little sense given the widespread availability of motel housing during the pandemic. DSS then claimed that V now needed “case management services.” However, DSS failed to explain why these services could not be provided in a motel or other setting that was appropriate for V’s impairments. DSS failed to distinguish V’s situation from that of others who received case management services while living in motel housing. 

During the hearing, DSS made numerous unsubstantiated claims about V’s alleged failure to comply with shelter policies. However, DSS failed to address how these allegations provided a legal basis to deny V the housing accommodations the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires. 

Throughout the hearing the Administrative Law Judge remained focused on whether V’s shelter placement complied with the ADA. The Commissioner’s decision reflected this focus. In the decision, the Commissioner found that: 

  • DSS failed to demonstrate that V’s placement was appropriate given her documented medical needs; 
  • V's placement was detrimental to her physical and mental well-being; 
  • The placement did not address V’s ADA request; and 
  • V could be in a motel or hotel setting. 

As such, the Commissioner directed DSS to immediately move V to temporary housing that meets her medical and psychosocial needs and to explore placing her in a motel. Finally, the Commissioner directed DSS not to subject V to repeated cycles of inappropriate housing again: “The Agency is directed to always place the Appellant elsewhere other than a shelter with any ‘shared living space.’” 
Foreclosure Unit Preserves Homeownership
Gavel and Foreclosure Notice document
During the pandemic, thousands of homeowners have entered into forbearance agreements with their lenders. Many may have difficulty resuming their monthly payments as the forbearance periods draw to a close. Avoiding foreclosure may require a variety of strategies depending on the legal issues in each case and each family’s unique circumstances. Some cases may call for assistance with modification applications, forbearance agreements and repayment plans, whereas litigation is called for in others. As a result, foreclosure prevention work includes not just legal analysis, but also holistic analysis of each family’s circumstances.
Foreclosure Prevention Through Family Counseling and Negotiation

Nassau Suffolk Law Services’ Foreclosure Prevention Unit has helped homeowners restructure millions of dollars in mortgage debt this year. With lower interest rates or extended loan maturity dates to make monthly payments more affordable, a large group of homeowners are now able to remain in their homes. 

In two recent cases, Foreclosure Prevention Unit Staff Attorney Kathleen Maher worked with families to evaluate opportunities to reduce expenses or increase household income. Maher then worked with the families and their lenders to achieve sustainable solutions following a mortgage default. 

For example, recently a young family approached the Foreclosure Prevention Unit for assistance after the father lost his job in the financial sector. While he was able to find new employment, it was at a lower salary. The young family of four decided that their home was large enough for the wife’s parents to move in to assist with mortgage payments and childcare. This in turn allowed the family to qualify for a loan modification. 

For some families, reinstating their mortgage may be a better option than modifying their mortgage debt. This can be accomplished by paying the arrears over time, or with a single lump sum payment. In another recent matter, Maher negotiated a reinstatement for a client that included more than $90,000 in debt forgiveness. A great result, but one that can also result in tax consequences to the homeowner. 

Ordinarily any debt, including mortgage debt, that is forgiven by the lender is treated as income for tax purposes and income tax must be paid on the full amount of debt forgiveness. This may be nearly impossible for a struggling homeowner. However, at the end of 2019 Congress revived an important protection for struggling homeowners, the Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness (“QPRI”) exclusion. In short, the QPRI allows a taxpayer to exclude up to 2 million dollars of forgiven mortgage debt. This extension is critical to homeowners trying to resolve mortgage arrears. The extension applied retroactively to mortgage forgiveness in 2018 and 2019. However, the QPRI extension has a limited life span and is due to expire on December 31, 2020. 

In other cases, the Foreclosure Prevention Unit may focus on negotiating additional time for homeowners to make moving arrangements, or funds to assist with moving expenses. This goes a long way towards making transitions less traumatic. 

Foreclosure Prevention Through Litigation 

In the case of T, the Foreclosure Prevention Unit focused on a litigation strategy. T is an elderly homeowner who took out a reverse mortgage on her property. The lender brought a foreclosure action against T alleging that she failed to pay property taxes and maintain hazard insurance on her home. 
New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 1304 (RPAPL 1304) requires lenders to send “90-day notices” to homeowners at least 90 days before starting a foreclosure action. These notices warn homeowners of an impending foreclosure and refer homeowners to housing counselors to seek timely help. While the 90-day notices were originally only required for mortgages that required ongoing monthly payments, in December 2016 RPAPL 1304 was amended to require the notices for reverse mortgages as well. 
This amendment was important because many elderly reverse mortgage borrowers are not aware that they may face foreclosure as a result of unpaid property charges or may have missed property tax or insurance payments because of hospitalization or other health crisis. However, because of a drafting error there was a dispute about the effective date of the amendment extending the 90-day notice requirement to reverse mortgage cases. 
Foreclosure Prevention Staff Attorney Heather Graham  reviewed T’s case and saw that the lender had failed to send a 90-day notice prior to starting the action. Graham opposed the lender’s motion for summary judgment on this basis and cross moved for summary judgment dismissing the action as to T for failing to meet this mandatory prerequisite to foreclosure. The lender argued, however, that the amendment to RPAPL 1304 did not go into effect until May 2018, one month after it started its foreclosure action. 
The Court agreed with Graham's argument that 90-day notices were required in reverse mortgage actions by at least April 20, 2017, a year before the lender started the foreclosure action against T. The Court therefore granted Graham’s motion, effectively ending the foreclosure action. 
The Court's decision will provide T time to address the underlying allegations that she failed to stay current on property charges. It is also an important confirmation that vulnerable reverse mortgage borrowers were entitled to 90-day notices over a year before many lenders began providing them.

The Nassau Suffolk Law Services Foreclosure Unit and a number of nonprofit organizations met with homeowners and renters at the Nassau County Bar Association's Housing Open House on August 27. The Bar Association set up tents in their parking lot to allow people in need to meet with attorneys and housing counselors while respecting social distancing.

Pictured from left to right: Senior Staff Attorney Mike Wigutow, Staff Attorney Kathleen Maher, Paralegal Shervon Miller and Staff Attorney Heather Graham meet with homeowner at Nassau County Bar Association Open House. Photo provided courtesy of Nassau County Bar Association.
Law Services and Nursing Home Ombudsmen Work Together to Support Residents Right to be “Home”
Nursing Home Patient Returns Home Amid Pandemic

Against the backdrop of a pandemic that has been particularly dangerous to nursing home residents, S was involuntarily confined to a nursing facility following an accidental overdose on one of her medications. Thanks to the intervention of Staff Attorney Dan Okrent with Nassau Suffolk Law Services’ Seniors' Project, the nursing home agreed that S could return home to her federally subsidized apartment. 
S is only 62 but has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for decades. Her overdose occurred when she was delirious with a high fever and pneumonia. As a result, she reached for the wrong pill container. S was hospitalized and then transferred to a nursing home for further recovery. The nursing home refused to discharge S unless she received 24-hour care and further required that she have a relative who could administer her medications to her at home. S objected to these onerous requirements because she has no relatives on Long Island to administer her medications. She also objected to the 24-hour care requirement because she has no night care needs. S hates nursing homes and was afraid that she would be stuck in a nursing home for the rest of her life. That was when S turned to NSLS. 
Okrent sought the intervention of the Director of the Nursing Home Ombudservice. The assigned Ombudsperson could not personally visit the patient because of COVID-19 restrictions, but she started working on the case remotely. The nursing home dropped both of the requirements that would have prevented S’s discharge from the nursing facility. She was discharged to her home a few days later. 
Preserving Homelike Environment Away from Home

For many nursing home and long-term care residents, returning home during the pandemic was not an option. As pandemic rules restricted visitor access and limited social and recreational program in homes, a homelike environment became all the more important to resident well-being. 
A nursing home ombudsperson called the Legal Support Center for Advocates (LSCA) for assistance after a resident complained that she was not allowed to keep personal furniture in her room. The resident was particularly upset because she felt that others were allowed to keep similar furniture. The resident felt that the home was treating her unfairly. 
LSCA consulted with Staff Attorney Erika Verrill of Law Services’ Adult Home Project. Verrill directed LSCA to the Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) regulations requiring long-term care facilities to provide a "homelike environment." CMS State Operations Manual Appendix PP, Section 483. A "homelike environment" includes the right to keep personal property, including furniture, unless it interferes with the rights of other residents. 
LSCA explained that the home could refuse to allow furniture if it created a health or safety problem, or if it did not fit in the resident's personal space. But, that personal belongings should otherwise be allowed absent an articulated reason why they could not be. Armed with these regulations the ombudsperson persuaded the home to permit the resident to keep her furniture.

If you are a community advocate trying to assist a client who is confronting a legal or benefits-related issue, please call LSCA for support: 631-232-2400, ext. 3324 (Cathy) or 3309 (Vivian).
Developments in Criminal Law Allow People to Rebuild Lives
Changes in Marijuana Law Allow Client’s Criminal History to Be Sealed

The punishment for a felony lasts far longer than the prison sentence imposed. Nassau Suffolk Law Services’ Re-entry client L had no criminal involvement after he was released from incarceration for a minor drug offense. Yet twenty years later, his status as a “convicted felon” continued to hold him back. 
L came to our Re-Entry Unit frustrated that he was turned down for jobs after prospective employers ran background checks. Staff Attorney Ray DeLeo helped L obtain his RAP sheet and review it. DeLeo quickly realized that L was eligible for relief. 
A person with a criminal history may be required to divulge this status on a job or license application and has a publicly searchable criminal history. But L is no longer considered a “Convicted Felon” thanks to DeLeo’s successful Motion to Seal under N.Y. Criminal Procedure Law 160.59

N.Y. Criminal Procedure Law, Section 160.59 allows criminal records to be sealed in limited circumstances. To be eligible for relief, an individual must have two or fewer convictions on their criminal record. Only one of these can be a felony. At least 10 years must have passed since the individual’s release from incarceration or supervision. 
L met every requirement for sealing in NY except one: L had a third minor conviction for marijuana possession. DeLeo and the Nassau Re-Entry team argued that the third conviction falls under a category of “Marijuana Convictions,” that NY Senate Bill No. 6579 (NY 242 Legislative Session 5(a) pg. 3) expunged in August 2019. As a result, DeLeo's Motion to Seal was granted without opposition from the District Attorney. 
Without the stigma of a decades-old conviction, L is now able to find work and participate as a full member of the community. 
Sealed Criminal History
If a criminal record was sealed or expunged, ordinary employers can only view it with the consent of the subject of the report or by court order. While every situation is unique, it is therefore generally appropriate for applicants for private sector jobs whose prior offenses were entirely sealed or expunged to respond that they do not have a criminal record in these circumstances.  Job applicants who are not certain what their criminal record contains or who are not sure how to respond to inquiries about their criminal history should contact Nassau Suffolk Law Services Re-Entry Unit or seek other legal advice for guidance about their individual situation.
Military recruiters and government background checks have access to all records, including those that were sealed or expunged, as well as records of juvenile offenses. There can be serious consequences for misrepresenting a criminal history when enlisting in the military or completing a government background check. 

Ban the Box in Effect in Suffolk County
As of August 2020, Suffolk County employers may no longer ask job applicants about their criminal histories until after an initial interview. The “Fair Employment Screening Amendment,” which went into effect on August 25, 2020, applies to the County, private employers with at least 15 employees and vocational training programs. The amendment is known as “Ban the Box” because it prohibits including a criminal history check-box on a job application. Instead, applicants must be given an opportunity to demonstrate that they are qualified for the position and to explain the context of any criminal history. 
The “Ban the Box” Amendment does not apply to law enforcement agencies, schools, or agencies that provide direct care of children, young adults, seniors, or people with physical or developmental disabilities. It also does not apply if other laws prohibit people with criminal histories from working in the position. 
Under longstanding human rights law, New York employers also may not deny or terminate employment based on prior criminal convictions, unless there was a direct relationship between the offense and employment or employing the individual presents a risk to property, specific individuals or the public. N.Y. Correction Law Art. 23-A, Section 752. In determining whether criminal history warrants refusing to hire or terminating an employee, employers must consider factors including: 
  • Public policy in favor of licensing or employing individuals with a criminal history; 
  • The duties and responsibilities of the position; 
  • Whether the offense has any bearing on the individual’s fitness or ability; 
  • The passage of time and the individual’s age at the time of the offense; 
  • The seriousness of the offense; 
  • Rehabilitation and good conduct after the offense; and
  • The safety and welfare of specific individuals and the general public.
In addition, a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or of Good Conduct creates a presumption of rehabilitation. 
People who believe they have been denied employment or terminated because of their criminal history can submit complaints to the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission or contact Nassau Suffolk Law Services’ Re-Entry Project.
More Public Benefits Options
Low-Income Families with Financed Cars May Now be Eligible for Public Assistance 

On Long Island safe reliable transportation may be even more important to low-income families than housing, especially as COVID has disrupted public transportation. Yet, owning a car may make a low-income family ineligible for public benefits. Thanks to recent changes in OTDA regulations, families with financed cars may no longer be turned away when they apply for assistance. This new policy is particularly important for families who may be experiencing poverty for the first time as a result of COVID.  
Households are not eligible for ongoing public or temporary assistance unless the family’s available resources are below $2,000, or $3,000 for households that include a person over 60 years of age. New OTDA regulations prompted by the Stewart v. Roberts litigation require local Departments of Social Services (DSS) to consider the equity in a car, rather than just its market value, in calculating resources and determining eligibility for benefits. 
When it calculates resources, DSS exempts $12,000 from the fair market value of a family’s first vehicle. DSS applies the family’s full equity in any additional vehicles towards the resource limit. However, prior to the Stewart litigation, DSS did not consider whether the family actually had any equity in their first car in determining whether it should be considered an available “resource.” 
The petitioner in  Stewart challenged DSS’s determination that she was ineligible for assistance and the legality of these rules. When the local district calculated Stewart’s resources, the outstanding balance of her car loan was $13,301 and exceeded the car’s fair market value. She had no equity in the car, but the local district determined that it was an available resource that put her over the resource limits. 
The Court found in Stewart's favor and directed OTDA to issue a directive advising local districts that an automobile in which the household has minimal or no equity is not an available resource. “Minimal equity” means that the equity value of the vehicle and the household’s other resources are less than the $2,000/$3,000 resource limit. 
As a result of the litigation, OTDA recently issued a new directive [20 ADM-08] which states that retroactive to May 11, 2020, whenever the fair market value of the first vehicle exceeds the $12,000 limit, DSS must evaluate the family's equity in the car. Therefore, a household that financed a $15,000 car, but only has $1500 equity in that vehicle is now eligible for assistance in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Free Benefits Counseling for People With HIV/AID

Nassau Suffolk Law Services now offers free benefits counseling for people with HIV/AIDS. The program is designed to help eligible New Yorkers understand how working will effect disability, medical and other benefits. Remote and virtual services are available. 

Services are offered through a pilot project supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Call Nassau Suffolk Law Services at (516) 292-8100 and ask for Dolores Sclafani for more information.

Domestic Violence Advocacy in the Midst of a Pandemic
In March, after COVID brought Long Island to a standstill, the family courts opened only for emergencies such as Neglect proceedings to protect children and Orders of Protection for survivors of domestic violence. Many of these proceedings were conducted through a hybrid of virtual and in-person appearances, requiring flexibility and creativity for attorneys trying to help families in crisis. 
Nassau Suffolk Law Services Staff Attorney Larry Tuthill represents survivors of domestic violence, particularly on the East End of Long Island. In Tuthill’s first virtual court appearance, he represented a Mother who was being assaulted by her teenage Son. The arguments between the two were in part regarding curfews and noncompliance to society’s new rules of social distancing and wearing masks. The Son was going out at all hours of the night "partying" with his friends and refusing to shelter at home as everyone was asked to do at the beginning of the pandemic. The Mother tried to enforce household rules, but her Son was verbally and physically abusive. 
An advocate working with the Mother contacted the Legal Support Center for Advocates (LSCA) who referred the Mother to Tuthill in the Domestic Violence Unit. Tuthill explained that Person In Need of Supervision (PINS) and juvenile delinquency petitions were not being heard at that point, but that the Mother might be able to get the support she needed through a "Refrain From" Order of Protection.  This type of Order of Protection allows the respondent to continue to have contact with the petitioner, or even to live together in the same home, but lists specific acts that the respondent must "refrain from" committing. With a Refrain From Order of Protection, the Mother would not have to force her Son to leave home, but would still get support in ensuring her safety.
At the first Court appearance, the young man and his Mother were the only people in the courtroom along with the clerk and two Court Officers. Everyone was wearing masks. The Judge and the Court Stenographer were each at their own homes. Both the respondent’s court appointed attorney and Tuthill also appeared by Skype from home.  
At first, the Son adamantly denied the allegations against him. The Son was belligerent toward his Mother, who did not have an advocate on site to support her. After confronting audio and visual glitches that delayed the hearing, the Judge ordered a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation and the matter was adjourned.  
At the next Court date, again the only people in the Courtroom were the clerk, Court Officers and the litigants, while the other participants in the hearing appeared from home. The Judge received the CPS investigation by e-mail, and both attorneys and the young man consented to the Order of Protection.  
Now Family Court attorneys and staff have mastered virtual appearances and the courts are running more smoothly than at the start of the pandemic.
Law Services Updates

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a severe financial crisis for many Long Islanders. Civil legal services are essential to making sure our neighbors have access to justice in cases affecting their basic needs such as shelter, food, education and health care as well as for COVID-19 related legal issues.

Walk the Path of Justice with us by symbolically adopting/honoring a NSLS Unit so we can continue to “Do What’s Legally Possible to Create a Just World.” Your donation will support the critical civil legal services Long Island communities need to thrive again. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of Long Island’s most vulnerable residents.
Staff Spotlight:
Re-Entry Attorney Ray DeLeo Named Nassau Young Attorney of the Year
The Nassau County Legislature named Re-Entry Project staff attorney Ray DeLeo "Young Attorney of the Year" for his "exemplary service" to the community. The Legislature cited DeLeo's "leadership and dedication to enriching the lives of others" in giving the award.
NSLS is on the Move Amid Coronavirus!
Law Services staff have remained active in the community during the pandemic.
On July 29, 2020, Carly Sommers, Staff Attorney in the Re-Entry Project gave a webinar sponsored by the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society. Sommers discussed housing discrimination based on arrest record and criminal history. The webinar was well attended by Suffolk County Legal Aid attorneys and social workers.
On July 24, 2020, Larry Tuthill, Staff Attorney in the Domestic Violence Unit and Victoria Davies, Staff Attorney in the Child Support Unit gave a webinar on Family Law Basics. Advocates learned about custody, visitation and child support petitions, and what to expect in family court.

Tuthill also gave a webinar on May 12th to staff of The Retreat regarding custody issues arising due to COVID-19 as well as how those cases were then being handled in Family Court.
Marissa Luchs Kindler, Supervising Attorney of the Suffolk Civil Unit gave a webinar on the 2019 Landlord Tenant Amendments on June 19th. In addition to discussing how the recent amendments have been implemented, Luchs Kindler also discussed the status of the COVID- 19 Moratoria and the impact on evictions.
Raymond DeLeo, Staff Attorney of the Re-Entry Project presented in a webinar sponsored by the Nassau County Re-Entry Task Force on June 11, 2020. The presentation was given to staff members of the Nassau County Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Nassau County Department Probation Department, New Horizons Counseling Center and Nassau County EAC. DeLeo reviewed the services the Re-Entry Project offers and eligibility requirements. He also reviewed the process of sealing a criminal record in New York State.

On April 29, 2020, Dan Okrent, Staff Attorney in the Senior Citizen’s Project gave a webinar on Advance Directives to The Alzheimer’s Association.
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Welcome to Our Team!

Maria Beller is our new Social Worker. Maria is a 2020 Fordham MSW graduate with deep experience in the mental health field. Beller is passionate about advocating for people in need and looks forward to the new challenge of working on behalf of our clients.

Kimberly Bolk, Law Graduate from CUNY Law School joined the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN) unit. Bolk participated in CUNY's health law clinic and is excited to be working to expand healthcare access on Long Island.

Ann Marie Fitzpatrick, Education and Disability Rights Project Disability Advocate is a graduate of the Council of Special Education Advocates and Attorneys Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) program.

Attorney Zachary Randall joined the Behavioral Health Law Project. Randall graduated from Pace Law School this year after completing the Pro Bono Scholars program with Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
Goodbyes & Farewells

Marcia Vogel, longtime Disability Advocate in the Education and Disability Rights Project, retired from Nassau Suffolk Law Services in February, 2020. During her time at NSLS, Vogel was a tireless and effective advocate on behalf of students and adults with disabilities. She will be sorely missed by her clients and NSLS staff.

After 20 years at Law Services, and even more as a Social Worker, Angela Lampe has retired to Florida to be closer to family. Her tireless passion for, and dedication to, advocating for her clients will surely be missed by Law Services’ staff and, of course, her clients. 

Senior Staff Attorney Beth Zweig left NSLS in August. Zweig was the supervising attorney in the Public Benefits unit. Her leadership and vision for the long-term future of the unit will be missed.

We wish them all the very best!
NSLS Mourns the Loss of Don Friedman

Former Empire Justice Center attorney Don Friedman passed away unexpectedly in August 2020. Friedman was a longtime public interest lawyer who trained generations of public benefits attorneys and led New York's welfare task force. The legal services community will miss Friedman's leadership and vision.
A Message From the Executive Director
We are living in a time of great uncertainty. The legal framework around the issues our clients face can change from day to day. Whereas in the past regulations and law might evolve from year to year, now legal guidance from just weeks earlier may have become entirely obsolete. Our community needs Nassau Suffolk Law Services more than ever to navigate these changing tides. We are dedicated to meeting our clients' needs as Long Island reopens its economy and rebuilds disrupted lives.

At the same time, state and local budgets that support all of the services our clients rely on are under enormous strain. We will do everything in our power to secure adequate funding to avoid any reductions in services. I am hopeful that Nassau Suffolk Law Services will receive the resources needed to meet these needs. Because of the pandemic we have replaced our in-person fundraising event with a virtual campaign. Please consider supporting our fall Commitment to Justice Campaign with a donation in any amount.