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Nassau Suffolk Law Services Celebrates

Nassau Suffolk Law Services is pleased to announce the launch of a Name Change Project in partnership with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF). The Name Change Project will help transgender people obtain a legal name change. This is often a critical step for transgender people as they go through a gender transition. Because the process of obtaining a legal name change can be complex and stressful, the Name Change Project works to reduce these burdens on transgender individuals.

While a petitioner can obtain a legal name change without help from a lawyer, the legal system can be difficult for people to navigate alone. To obtain a legal name change order, a petitioner must submit a petition to the Supreme Court in the county where they live. That petition must disclose:

  • judgments and liens against you
  • pending legal proceedings that you are involved in
  • misdemeanor and felony convictions, and
  • bankruptcies.

Once a name change petition is approved, it must be publicized in a court-approved newspaper, but that requirement can be waived if publication would jeopardize the petitioner’s safety. To change the name on government-issued documents and identification, a petitioner must submit a copy of the court-issued name change order and a doctor’s note to the appropriate government agency, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles.

NSLS staff attorneys in multi-issue units, including those serving:

  • Veterans,
  • People with HIV/AIDS,
  • People with serious mental health disorders,
  • Nassau County residents age 60+, and
  • Residents of Adult Care Facilities

can now help people who are transgender with name change petitions. NSLS and TLDEF will seek pro bono attorneys to assist other low-income clients who do not fit into one of NSLS's multi-issue units.

If you support clients who are going through a gender transition and are seeking a legal name change, they can be referred to any of our offices or TLDEF for assistance. Please contact NSLS or the TLDEF if you have any questions about this process or want an attorney to help you obtain a legal name change.

If you are an attorney interested in volunteering to assist people with name changes in Suffolk County please contact Carolyn McQuade: (631) 232-2400, ext. 3325, [email protected]. To volunteer in Nassau County please contact Susan Biller: (516) 292-8100, ext. 3136, [email protected].

Rezwanul Islam Named Deputy Executive Director


Nassau Suffolk Law Services is pleased to announce that Rezwanul Islam has been promoted to Deputy Executive Director.  Rez was born and raised on Long Island, New York. He received a B.S. in Pharmacology and Toxicology and a B.A. in Sociology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He received his J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law.  Rez has been with Nassau Suffolk Law Services since 2012. He was the Managing Attorney for Nassau County and the Supervising Attorney for the Disability Advocacy Project (DAP), focusing on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability issues.  He is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. He has represented numerous clients before the Social Security Administration and in federal court. 

Remembering Judge Jack Weinstein


Nassau Suffolk Law Services mourns the recent passing of our founder, the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein. While Judge Weinstein is best remembered as the longest servicing active federal judge, he also played a critical role in the development of free civil legal services at the local and national levels.

Judge Weinstein was dedicated to social justice and civil rights. He understood that access to legal representation in matters affecting the essentials of life is critical to achieving those goals. Judge Weinstein was an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he served on the legal team for Brown v. Board of Education. Later, as the County Attorney for Nassau County, Judge Weinstein collaborated with other government officials and community leaders to create Nassau Law Services Committee, the predecessor to NSLS. Judge Weinstein's efforts were instrumental in the development of the Legal Services Corporation, the entity that currently provides federal funding for civil legal services nationwide.

A full obituary for Judge Weinstein was published in the NY Times.

Understanding Long Island Emergency Rental Assistance Programs

The federal government allocated funds to local governments to help people struggling with rental or utility arrears as a result of the pandemic. There are separate ERA programs for residents of Hempstead, Oyster Bay, and Islip. Residents of other Long Island communities apply to the New York State ERA program.


While all of the programs are governed by guidelines from the U.S. Treasury, there are a number of distinctions between the programs advocates should be aware of: 


New York State: Visit the OTDA website to apply 

New York State began accepting applications June 1, 2021. Tenants with incomes below 50% of the area median income and other high-need groups are entitled to prioritization if they apply through the end of June. After that, applications will be accepted on a first come first served basis as long as funds remain available. 

  • Maximum income is 80% of the area median income determined by HUD: 
  • 1 person, $66,450  
  • 2 people, $75,950  
  • 3 people, $85,450  
  • 4 people, $94,900 
  • Rental permits or inspections are not required. 
  • Tenants must be experiencing rental arrears to apply. Applications for only utility assistance or only prospective rent will not be considered. 
  • Landlords may not bring a no-fault eviction proceeding or increase the rent for 12 months after receiving ERA funds. Landlords can still evict for reasons like failure to pay rent that becomes due after ERA support ends. 

Islip ResidentsVisit the Islip CDA website to apply 

  • Islip began accepting applications in spring 2021 and is expected to continue to accept applications throughout 2021 (based on the current application rates). 
  • Maximum tenant income is based on "uncapped" HUD area median income. This is higher than the income limits for the New York State program: 
  • 1 person, $ 72,750 
  • 2 people, $ 83,150 
  • 3 people, $ 93,550 
  • 4 people, $103,900 
  • Rental permits are required. A tenant or landlord can apply even if the unit currently lacks a permit. But the landlord will need to obtain a permit before funds will be awarded. 
  • Applications for only utility arrears or only prospective rent will be considered (even if the tenant does not have rental arrears) in some circumstances. 
  • Landlords may not bring eviction proceedings for 90 days after payments of rental arrears. 

Hempstead Residents: While the initial application window for the Hempstead ERA program closed on June 23, we expect a second application window to open after the initial applications are processed. Hempstead tenants can pre-register to be notified when the program reopens here.

Oyster Bay Residents: We expect to learn more about the Oyster Bay program in early July. Oyster Bay Tenants can pre-register for the program here. 

Reentry Project Helps Job Seeker Achieve Self Sufficiency

Securing stable employment for a person after incarceration is one of the most certain ways to prevent recidivism. However, it can be difficult to find a job when all of the work history took place while incarcerated. Nassau Suffolk Law Services' client K was recently released from prison after 17 years of incarceration for an offense he committed as a teenager. Despite having worked and built concrete job skills while incarcerated, K was having a hard time finding employment.  

The US Department of Labor established the Federal Bonding Program to assist difficult-to-place job-seekers like K. The program provides employers a 6-month fidelity bond for the first six months after hiring a participant in the program. The bond is available at no cost to the employer.  

When an employer raised concerns about K's criminal history, the NY Department of Labor intervened to connect K to the Federal Bonding Program. However, an administrator initially denied K a federal bond because K had failed to disclose his criminal history in his initial job application.  

Suffolk County "banned the box" last year, meaning that job seekers can no longer be required to disclose criminal history status on most initial job applications. However, the Federal Bonding Program administrator nonetheless claimed that K had an affirmative duty to disclose his criminal history. This is untrue.  

That's when Carly Sommers, a staff attorney with Nassau Suffolk Law Services' Reentry Unit stepped in. After Sommers explained the Ban the Box law, K was able to get bonded. He now has a pending offer of employment at $19/hour.

Programs for General Audience

Homeowners Rights During The Pandemic

Presented by NSLS Foreclosure Prevention Project in Partnership with the Copiague Memorial Public Library

Many homeowners are struggling to pay their housing expenses because of the pandemic. Come learn about homeowners' rights and options from Nassau Suffolk Law Services' Foreclosure Unit.

Topics discussed will include options for working with your lender and the foreclosure process, including:

  • Forbearance; 
  • Repayment plans;
  • Loan modifications;
  • The foreclosure process;
  • Homeowner assistance programs.

Wednesday, July 21, 6:00 pm


Legal Support Center for Advocates Presentation

Preparing for the End of the Moratorium

Presented by NSLS Senior Staff Attorney Marissa Luchs Kindler

Since the beginning of the pandemic, New Yorkers facing financial hardship have largely been shielded from eviction. The New York State Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act moratorium is scheduled to end on August 31, 2021. This presentation will prepare advocates to work with clients facing eviction, including an explanation of new legal protections created during the pandemic and available sources of assistance.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 1:00 pm


Upcoming NCBA CLE

Emergency Rental Assistance Programs and Post-Covid Evictions

Wednesday, June 30, 5-6:30 pm

Register with the Nassau County Bar Association.

Donate Your Time, Talent, or Treasure to Support Neighbors in Need

Compassionate attorneys and other volunteers are needed to assist people with limited resources who are facing legal challenges on their own.

For more information about becoming a Pro Bono Attorney or NSLS Volunteer, please contact:

To help people facing eviction, please contact:

Support our Spring Campaign
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