Mental Health Advocacy Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization protecting and advancing the legal rights of people with mental disabilities since 1977

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Celebrating 50 Years of
The Fair Housing Act 
In April 1968, The Fair Housing Act was passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 with the goal of eliminating housing discrimination and creating equal opportunity in every community ( Fifty years later, MHAS is committed to advancing that goal. We provide advocacy and education to ensure that our clients with disabilities are protected from discrimination and  are aware of their fair housing rights. Thanks to a new grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fair Housing Initiatives Program (Grant # FEOI180041-01-00), MHAS will continue to offer free fair housing trainings to the public and disseminate monthly fair housing tips. 

Subscribe to our Fair Housing Tip of the Month  (Check the Fair Housing box) 
MHAS and Pro Bono Attorney Tanya Greene Win SSI Appeal for Child With Autism
Tanya Greene, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Octavia*, MHAS Client
*Name has been changed to protect client privacy.
"If I failed by myself again after doing it three times, I wou ldn't get help  for my son that he really needed," recounts Octavia (not client's real name) of her desperation after being denied SSI benefits for her young son with autism. Octavia is a single working mother of four children. She applied for SSI benefits for her twin sons, both of whom experience significant school challenges and developmental delays due to autism. Confused and exasperated when one child was approved while the other was denied, she wasn't sure where to turn. Octavia was particularly frustrated by the denial because the twin whose application was denied actually struggles more with daily activities than his brother. 

Octavia  contacted MHAS to get help with the appeal process after 
multiple attorneys turned her down. MHAS reached out to Tanya Greene, partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, who has been a valuable and consistent pro bono volunteer.  Tanya immediately responded and took on the case.

Tanya, working with MHAS attorneys, obtained medical records, reviewed agency files and submitted a compelling brief.  At hearing, the judge was quickly convinced of the validity of the appeal, finding in the client's favor and ordering two years of retroactive benefits.

"Quite frankly, the benefits should've been granted from day one," said Tanya, noting that if she and MHAS had not stepped in, Octavia would have had to "navigate through this bureaucratic process on top of everything else that she has on her plate with her sons and her full-time job."

Octavia is grateful for the benefits that allow her to obtain the services and supports that her son needs to learn and thrive. Octavia says of her son: "My goal is to bring him into our world. I try to make him as independent as I can."
MHAS Partnering with Multiple Legal Aid Agencies to Serve LA County's Most Vulnerable 
SSI Benefits 
MHAS is collaborating with Inner City Law Center as part of the Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Team (CBEST) to provide technical assistance to multiple social service providers throughout Los Angeles County to help homeless individuals obtain SSI benefits.

Whole Person Care - Los Angeles
In 2018, MHAS joined Neighborhood Legal Services of L.A. County, Bet Tzedek and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles  to form a Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services - Whole Person Care (WPC-LA) program. This MLP will provide legal services in areas such as housing, public benefits, and special education to the County's most vulnerable Medi-Cal recipients.

BeHeLP-LawWorks: Pilot Project with Learning Works Charter School

MHAS and Learning Works Charter School (Learning Works) are piloting a school-legal partnership, BeHeLP LawWorks, to support positive education outcomes for students and their families who face legal challenges that can interfere with educational success.

Many students experience chronic trauma growing up with high levels of violence and poverty. This partnership integrates legal support into the educational setting, enabling students to overcome challenges and focus on their continued education.
Cynthia Huynh, Berkeley Law School Public Interest Fellow
Cynthia Huynh, Berkeley Law School Public Interest Fellow, says that she is inspired by her clients who "fight through incredible emotional, financial, and physical hardships." She aspires to be "the kind of advocate who supports these youth in recognizing their own abilities to advocate for themselves as they transition to independent adult life."
BeHeLP-UP Serving Veterans in Long Beach
Vanessa Lim, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Veterans Legal Corps Fellow
Through the AmeriCorps Veterans' Legal Corps project, MHAS has launched legal clinics for veterans at two Long Beach locations, and we will be commencing clinics at a third location soon. The clinics make it possible for the large veteran population in the area to gain access to free legal services.

By addressing barriers to employment and housing stability, Project Attorney Vanessa Lim hopes to "empower individuals to overcome structural and legal barriers and achieve long-term success and stability."

 Law Rocks Los Angeles 2018 Was a Smashing Success!
of law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp (MSK) rocked the Whisky a Go Go on March 16. For a nostalgic half hour, The MSKeatles, led by MHAS Board member Andrew Spitser, transported the Law Rocks audience back to the '60s with their incredible performance of hits from The Beatles' Abbey Road. MHAS had a blast cheering on the band!
MHAS thanks The MSKeatles, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, Law Rocks Inc., and everyone who supported the event! The funds raised from this event will allow MHAS to continue providing free legal services to low-income people with mental health disabilities.

View more photos.

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