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Policy Matters October 2014


Happy Halloween! It’s hard to believe the fall season is here and 2015 is right around the corner.  During the last month, we have been busy at work, meeting with clients and working with our colleagues and coalitions to continue our work on behalf of low income New Yorkers.  We also had our annual statewide retreat, where staff from all six of our offices gathered to catch up and hear more about the amazing work others have been doing in all of our different practice areas.  It is always a treat to get together and have all of our staff in one (very large) room!

Here are some highlights of what has been going on since the last edition of Policy Matters:

As one of the anchor partners for the Attorney General’s Home Ownership Protection Program (HOPP), we have enjoyed working with our colleagues and partners across the state to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure stay in their homes.  Last month at the CHXE Conference, we were pleased to hear the AG’s announcement for continued investment in the program!  Many thanks to the AG and of course to the various statewide housing counseling and legal services organizations for all of your hard work on behalf of homeowners!

In an effort to help bring important information to homeowners who may be facing foreclosure,
we developed a new web-based resource that contains frequently asked questions, commonly used forms, a handy document checklist and most importantly, information about how to access free quality housing counseling services in your area.  Please check it out and share it with anyone you think would benefit from the resource.

Next month, members of our Consumer practice group will be attending the National Consumer Law Center Conference, to learn about new issue areas, best practices and hear from national experts.  Our very own senior attorney, Ruhi Maker, will be
presenting on the use of local data to better represent homeowners and protect neighborhoods from blight.  Hopefully, we can share some pictures of her in action on our Facebook page, so be on the lookout for those!

We continue to keep a close eye on the issues facing unaccompanied migrant youth coming into New York State.  After testifying at an Assembly hearing in New York City on this issue, we also participated in a roundtable in Rockland County, sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee.  It is clear that this is a priority for policymakers and a critical issue for New York State, as a whole, to address in a fair and compassionate manner.  We will continue to serve as an informational resource to policymakers on this issue so New York can better provide assistance to these children and their caretakers.

Civil Rights
Over the last year, we, along with partners and the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC), have called for Nassau County Executive Mangano to increase access to county services for Limited English Proficient (LEP) residents, as mandated under Executive Orders 67 and 72.  This month, we rallied on the steps of the county government building to bring attention to this issue and hopefully spur the county to act immediately.  We will keep you posted on future developments as they occur.

We also hope that if you are interested in language access issues, you will consider attending the
3rd Annual LILAC Conference on Friday, November 7th.  Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, will be the keynote speaker, so make sure to register online today for this exciting conference.

Public Benefits
Last year, Empire Justice Center, along with our colleagues from  the Legal Aid Society, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and Cooley LLP, was successful in securing relief for well over
100,000 households who were improperly cut off or denied SNAP benefits  due to inappropriate sanctions.  Recently, we submitted comments in response to proposed amendments to the SNAP work requirements and conciliation process, in an effort to urge New York to come into compliance with federal regulations. 

Come Be a Part of Our Team!
As our organization continues to grow and expand, we are in need of a dynamic leader to join our leadership team as our Chief Financial Officer!  The ideal candidate will have superb expertise in budget management, post award administration and financial operations and planning. Applications are due by November 14, 2014, so please spread the word.

On the Horizon……
As October comes to a close, we hope you had an opportunity to shine a light” on domestic violence
.  Thank you all for your continued support as we bring awareness to this issue.

Last but not least, we are almost done crafting our legislative agenda, so please be on the lookout for it in the next few weeks!  As always, feel free to follow us, via our Facebook page and our website!

Until the next time...

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