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Policy Matters - April 2013


Dear Friends,

Happy Spring!  Welcome to our second April issue of Policy Matters – the extended “non-budget edition” where we will try to catch you up on the many issues we have been working on this month.

Just two short weeks ago, we released our most recent report on the foreclosure crisis in New York.  This report focuses on Long Island and examines how foreclosures impact certain communities, including communities of color, more than others.  You can find our press release here and our full report here.  We will be releasing a report on immigrants and the health care exchange this Wednesday – so please keep an eye out for our announcement!

The foreclosure report has been a helpful tool for talking to legislators about one of our top priorities: a bill that would address the “shadow docket” of foreclosures across the state.

In addition to working on the shadow docket bill, we have been meeting with members of the Social Services the Children and Families Committees on our top priorities for those committees.  They include this, this and this.

Our staff has also been busy updating a series of memos on issues related to social services and children and families.  Our most recent memos urge the passage of:

  • S.2517/A.1196 requiring child care subsidies for income-eligible parents who work the night shift.
  • S.1419/A.3473 allowing attendance at a four year college to be counted as part of a public assistance recipient’s work activity.
  • S.242/A.2245 requiring local districts to credit the minimum wage value of workfare when recovering properly paid public assistance.
  • S.428/A.2960 giving the treating doctors of public assistance recipients the proper role in determining employability.

On the non-mortgage consumer front, for the past few months we’ve been working with members of New Yorkers for Responsible Lending (NYRL) to keep usurious payday lending out of New York.  So we were happy to see that Governor Cuomo and the Department of Financial Services put debt collectors on notice that it is illegal to try to collect on payday loans, as these loans are illegal in New York, and for the strong stance taken by the New York Times against payday lending. Here is our memo on the issue– and we were very, very pleased when we learned today that Superintendent Lawsky submitted a letter in opposition to the legislation on behalf of the Cuomo Administration.  Many, many thanks to Superintendent Lawsky and DFS for being so clear and forceful on this important issue!

At the national level, Empire Justice staff attended the annual National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) meeting held in Washington, DC.  During meetings with staff of New York’s congressional delegation, we discussed our concerns, shared by Attorney General Schneiderman and other state AGs, about the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s refusal to allow principle write-downs for mortgages insured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  We also urged support for a reversal of FHFA’s recent imposition of an additional fee on new mortgages in New York.  Borrowers in New York should not be penalized for living in a state that seeks to protect consumers through judicial foreclosure.  Be sure to read our blog on this issue.

Finally, you may have heard last month the stories by Chana Joffe-Walt on This American Life and NPR about the rise in the number of people on Social Security Disability (SSD).  We believe the reports unfairly characterize our country’s Social Security disability programs, people with disabilities and the lawyers who represent them.  You can read our response on our blog and in joint comments signed by dozens of organizations from across the country.  Keep an eye out for an op ed submitted to the Democrat & Chronicle on this important issue.

And that’s just a snapshot!  Keep an eye on our website and facebook page for current updates on our policy work!

All the best!

Kristin and the Empire Justice Policy Team

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Articles in this Issue