Tidbits and Thoughts . . .  Legal Aid's Online  News
May 5, 2016

 Besides being Boys' Day and Cinco de Mayo, May 5 is also the date when color tv debuts in Hawaii (1957) and when  the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled on Baehr v. Lewin to determine if state law prohibiting gay marriage was unconstitutional (1993).

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Legal Aid Executive Director Joins White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice

The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii's Executive Director M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina joined a distinguished panel at the White House Forum  on Increasing Access to Justice. Nalani was part of a panel discussion on "Pro Bono and Technology Innovations to Improve Access to Justice" moderated by James Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation. 

United States Vice President Joe Biden and the Attorney General of the United States, the Honorable Loretta Lynch joined many of the state's chief justices in the discussion around improving access to justice.
Top left: Vice-President Joe Biden, state chief justices' panel, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Bottom: Legal Aid Executive Director M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina (left) on the the  "Pro Bono and Technology Innovations to Improve Access to Justice" panel.

You can watch the discussion below:
White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice
White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice
Legal Aid's Fair Housing Enforcement Program leaves impact during Fair Housing Month
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii's Fair Housing Enforcement Program had a busy month of April during Fair Housing Month. Legal Aid staff joined with members from the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other county agencies to conduct fair housing training sessions across the state for housing providers and the general public.

Legal Aid staff attorney Reyna Ramolete Hayashi and Fair Housing advocate Madonna Castro Perez were featured on a panel on 'Olelo hosted by HUD called "Housing Discrimination Affecting Women" to share about the fair housing program and advocacy as well as discuss how housing discrimination impacts women including discrimination based on sex, sexual harassment, domestic violence, maternity leave discrimination, and familial status issues such as pregnancy and minor children.  The show aired four times on OLELO53 on April 10, 11, 12, and 13. Click here for the full video

Governor Ige's proclamation recognizing April as Fair Housing Awareness Month. Top right: Reyna and Madonna at the Olelo taping. Staff members help provide training to housing providers and the general public. 

Fair Housing Case Study
Fair Housing Case Study
Training videos created by the Fair Housing staff.

Great job by the Fair Housing Enforcement Program
Back: (L-R) Dan O'Meara (Asset Protection Managing Attorney), Britta Johnson (Fair Housing Outreach Specialist), Shea Henson (Fair Housing Civil Rights Advocate), Christilei Hessler (Fair Housing Staff Attorney). Front: (L-R) Marissa Okazaki (Fair Housing  Investigation Coordinator), Maddona Castro-Perez (Fair Housing Civil Rights Advocate), Georgette Deemer, M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina (Legal Aid Executive Director), Reyna Ramolete Hayashi (Fair Housing Staff Attorney), Emmie Suzuki Phillip (Fair Housing Outreach Specialist, not pictured)
Fair housing for all: Officials teach pitfalls of discrimination against renters

A panel including, from left, Hawaii Civil Rights Commission attorney Catherine Piazza, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii attorney Reyna Ramolete Hayashi, civil rights analyst Jelani Madaraka and Hawaii County fair housing officer Alan Rudo answer questions about what may and may not be asked of potential renters at a fair housing seminar Wednesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center. (Laura Shimabuku/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA - When a single rental listing on Craigslist can get 30 or more responses in its first day, it's not hard for shrewd landlords to bend the law to weed out families and the disabled.

The tight Hawaii housing market makes it that much more important that landlords know fair housing laws and tenants know their rights, say representatives from the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, the federal Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and Hawaii County's fair housing office.

The folks who deal firsthand with housing discrimination complaints gave pointers to a couple of dozen people - mostly property managers - at a seminar and panel in Kailua-Kona on Wednesday that also included coordination by the West Hawaii Association of Realtors.

Complaints from people with disabilities and those who need service animals make up the lion's share of fair housing cases, many of which are resolved by the agencies mentioned above and never reach the litigation stage, said Alan Rudo, the county's fair housing officer.

"People are scared to rent to people with disabilities because they don't want the liability, and every day people in wheelchairs are getting turned down," Rudo said. "I know people who believe that no landlord will rent to them."For the full article on West Hawaii TodayClick here.

"I was living out of a shelter after being discharged from the hospital due to suicidal ideas. Prior to that I had been homeless for three years now total. I received a letter from SSDI stating that I would be cut off from my benefits. 

Legal Aid assisted me with SSDI paperwork I received, printing me out the forms I would need, and they also assisted me with the paper work to get my birth certificate and SS card. 

Because of Legal Aid's help I feel so much better. I was riddled with worry and anxiety. I am able to get my birth certificate and social security card and I am clearing things up with SSDI."

Koarie was helped by Legal Aid's Homeless Project Outreach Specialist Carly Williamson and Homeless Project senior attorney Janet Kelly.
Staff Highlight: Did you know . . . .

Donald Thomas, paralegal and social security disability advocate at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii-Hilo Office is a three time World Guinness record holder for:

1. Giving the longest sermon at 93 hours from September 18-22, 1978;
2. The longest after-dinner speech, setting a record of 19 hours and 20 minutes on June 21-22, 1985;
3.  He set a new record for longest after-dinner speech, at 32 hours and 25 minutes in 1988.

Donald is also an accomplished author, writing The Philosophy of Divine Nutrition ( 1977), The Way of PDN: The Ultimate Vegetarian Athletic Nutrition Program (1986), and the  New Jump Swing-Record Breaking Jump rope program for fun, fitness and Cross training (1992).

Donald featured on the cover of Mahogany magazine.