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LSHV Thanks State Lawmakers for Investing in Civil Legal Services

April 22, 2021 WHITE PLAINS, NY – Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV), thanked State Lawmakers for their continued support in the recently passed State Budget and for recognizing the growing need for civil legal services in our communities.   

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins joined LSHV to announce the over $2.6 million allocated in various contracts throughout the Hudson Valley in the recently enacted State Budget to provide free civil legal services. 

The list of NYS funding:

·         Disability Advocacy Project (DAP) – $558,493

·         Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) – $642,000/year for three years

·         Legal Services Assistance Fund (LSAF) – $151,667

·         AIDS Institute – $288,305

·         OCFS Kinship Legal Project – $92,400

·         Westchester Eviction Prevention and Kinship Project – $400,000

·         Rockland Domestic Violence Project – $90,000

·         Veterans and Military Families Project – $380,000 ($50,000 increase for Westchester/Putnam)

LSHV is grateful to the State lawmakers who have recognized the critical need for civil legal services.  Rachel Halperin, CEO, LSHV thanked those present and stated: “Our representatives have a deep understanding of the important role civil legal services played during the pandemic and the essential role it will play in our region’s recovery.”  This funding from the State comes at a critical time as we face mounting need and support families in recovering from the past year.  COVID hit the most vulnerable among us the hardest.  Rachel continued: “By funding Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, our elected officials have shown that equal access to justice is a cornerstone of our democracy and our society.  It is a wise investment in our communities and it puts people first.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins announced: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, more than ever before, the need for free legal services for low income residents. We thank the hardworking team of attorneys and staff at Legal Services for their commitment to ensuring more Hudson Valley residents have access to fair legal representation. The funding secured in the budget will help Legal Services continue to fight for our most vulnerable.”

Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, “I am so pleased our enacted NYS budget provides much needed funding to Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV).   Too often low-income residents are in court fighting to maintain housing or secure benefits, and they must do so without representation and the knowledge and protection of their rights that representation provides.  As we rebuild from the pandemic, LSHV’s services will be more important than ever.  I thank Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and my colleagues for recognizing its importance.” 

Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski said, “While the COVID pandemic has impacted us all in various ways, it’s been devastating for our most vulnerable resident facing eviction, foreclosure or a domestic violence situation. This funding is absolutely critical to support our neighbors in crisis that are struggling now more than ever.  I am incredibly grateful for the work that LSHV does for all in our communities throughout the Hudson Valley – especially during this pandemic. Thank you to Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for her leadership and support in seeing this through.”

Individuals living paycheck to paycheck were unable to keep up and are now facing evictions, foreclosures, loss of benefits and health issues like never before.  These funds will allow us to provide free civil legal services to the individuals living in crisis within our community.  It supports the work we do with individuals and families who are disabled, living with AIDS, LGBTQ, veterans and military families.  It supports individuals and families facing eviction, foreclosure, fighting for rights and protections in family court, and survivors of domestic violence.  Overall, the funding supports LSHV’s ongoing effort to seek legal equity throughout our region for all individuals. We recognize the tireless commitment of our NYS elected officials to those in greatest need and are grateful to them for securing this funding. 

Assemblymember Chris Burdick: Spoke highly of LSHV saying, “Since taking office in January, my staff and I have witnessed the enormous help Legal Services of the Hudson Valley provides for residents in my district and beyond. I’m so grateful that together with my colleagues in the Assembly and my friends in the Senate, we were able to secure funding for LSHV.  I’m especially pleased that I could play a part in securing special funding to extend LSHV’s support services for veterans into Putnam and Westchester Counties. LSHV truly provides a lifeline to those most in need, and I look forward to our continued work together.”

“I applaud Legal Services of the Hudson Valley for providing many of my constituents with critically needed legal assistance as the pandemic hit the most vulnerable in Yonkers,” said Assemblyman Nader Sayegh (D-Yonkers) “I supported providing $2.6 million in the State Budget for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley because the pandemic leaves so many living in crisis in Yonkers who desperately need legal services.”

“Without Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, I could be homeless, on the street with no place to go. Legal Services does a job not all can do.  There are so many people, just like myself, that could never afford to pay for an attorney to represent them and have nowhere else to turn. I am forever grateful,” said LSHV client Renee Campbell.

There is no right to counsel in civil matters, and it is a fact that those who go to court with legal representation fare much better than those without – we are grateful to the State Lawmakers and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for their support of our programs and recognizing the importance of civil legal services as a solution to those suffering from the impact of COVID.

LSHV Board Vice President, Fran Pantaleo spoke on behalf of the Board of Directors, “Legal Services of the Hudson Valley staff go above and beyond to provide necessary civil services to our community every day. I’m proud that NYS Lawmakers recognized this need and were able to successfully secure over $2.6 Million for our region.  Because of this support, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley will be able to continue to protect basic human needs like housing, health care access, disability benefits and other critical legal matters throughout the Hudson Valley. We are so grateful to our elected officials for their support of our services and providing this lifeline for so many individuals and families.” 

Quotes from other State Lawmakers:

Senator Pete Harckham stated: “I am proud to have helped gain funding for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley in the 2022 State Budget because it is the kind of investment that helps strengthen our communities. More specifically, this funding will go toward eviction and foreclosure services in Westchester, as well as legal assistance for veterans in Putnam and Dutchess counties. Truly, this organization understands that to fulfill our nation’s promise of ‘justice for all’ means ensuring everyone has access to proper legal representation.”

“Organizations like Legal Services of the Hudson Valley provide invaluable support to individuals and families, helping to ensure that our most vulnerable community members have the resources they need in their toughest moments,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey. “I was proud to work with my Senate colleagues to secure state funding in this year’s budget for the critical range of services LSHV provides, including funding for the Veterans and Military Families Advocacy Project–an important resource that countless servicemen and women in my district rely on for help with things like housing, health care access, and disability benefits. I will always fight for programs that protect our residents and this infusion of funding is a testament to our strong commitment that no community member will be left behind.”

Senator Reichlin-Melnick said:  “Legal Services of the Hudson Valley provides critical services to some of the most vulnerable residents of our communities – protecting tenants from unscrupulous landlords, protecting people from abusive partners, protecting children and seniors and so much more. I was proud to help support LSHV in the 2021-2022 budget process, and I am thankful for the leadership of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins who helped to ensure this vital community service receives the funding it needs to keep supporting our neighbors.”

“Legal Services of the Hudson Valley goes above and beyond every day to provide necessary civil services to residents in need, often residents who have nowhere else to turn,” said Senator James Skoufis. “I’m thrilled that the Senate Majority worked to ensure LSHV was provided significant funding for their wide range of services in this year’s budget. In particular, Legal Services’ Veterans and Military Advocacy Project helps thousands of veterans in my district every year and I’ll always work to bring back state support for their services.”

“In the last year Legal Services of the Hudson Valley has greatly increased its caseload and provided thousands of local families with much-needed legal representation in a variety of disputes.  Addressing issues exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic, this vital network of law professionals helps our neighbors receive fair and equitable treatment in our justice system.  This funding will allow them to continue to carry out their important community service mission and, as always, I am proud to have advocated on their behalf,” said Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill, D-Ulster/Dutchess.

Assemblymember Abinanti:  “The size of your bank account should not determine whether you get justice. Representation by a lawyer is often the difference between winning or losing – even when you are right.  Legal Services of the Hudson Valley has proved they will protect the rights of Hudson Valley residents who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.”

Assemblymember Didi Barrett “Legal Services of the Hudson Valley continues to provide life-changing legal advice and support for all those who need to access these services. I was proud to work with my colleagues to secure $2.6 million dollars in funding for Legal Services to continue providing support to Hudson Valley residents, and to secure $380,000 for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley to support and expand their Veterans and Military Families Project.  This important program helps veterans and their families with a wide range of military service-related issues. I thank my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate for helping secure this funding and thank Legal Services of the Hudson Valley for all that they do”.

Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson’s quote:  “I am grateful to Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for leading the charge to provide this funding in the State Budget, and I was pleased to vote “yes” to support Legal Services of the Hudson Valley. They provide critical legal services for constituents in my district and across the Hudson Valley who cannot afford legal counsel in civil matters. Particularly since the pandemic, their services have been critical to keeping our most vulnerable families afloat.”

Assemblymember Amy Paulin: “Thank you Legal Services of the Hudson Valley for your continued work in providing free civil legal services and access to justice for low income members of our community. Now more than ever, as those in our community with low-incomes struggle to keep their jobs, stay in their homes, and provide basic necessities for their families, the need for civil legal assistance to individuals and families in our community is critical. Adequate funding for legal aid is necessary to effectively protect the legal interests of our community’s low-income residents.”

Assemblymember Otis said, “Legal Services of the Hudson Valley plays a vital role in providing essential civil legal assistance to individuals in need of guidance but who lack access to an attorney. The need for legal help has been great during Covid-19 when housing, unemployment, health, domestic violence, disability or veteran issues have surfaced on a regular basis. Legal Services of the Hudson Valley play a key role in making sound legal guidance available. The adopted state budget supports this important work.”

Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow: “I am ecstatic that my colleagues and I could obtain funding for free legal services in the Hudson Valley. Representation alone can make or break court proceedings, especially for individuals that cannot afford counsel. We will continue fighting for funding in areas that deserve it most!”

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About Legal Services of the Hudson Valley

LSHV is the only provider of free, comprehensive civil (non-criminal) legal services to low-income and disadvantaged individuals and families who cannot afford an attorney when their basic human needs are at stake. This includes urgent legal needs such as: housing emergencies, domestic violence, healthcare, children’s law and advocacy, disability and benefits, elder law, consumer fraud and more. Founded more than 50 years ago, LSHV serves the seven counties of the lower and mid-Hudson Valley (Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan), maintaining a staff of approximately 150 individuals working across ten offices throughout its service area.  In 2020, we handled 12,142 cases and impacted 27,380 individuals across all practice areas. 

For more information about Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, contribute or volunteer, please visit www.lshv.org, or contact Maureen Fox at 914-949-1305 x160 or mfox@lshv.org.

Stuart Brown is an Actor, Communications Consultant, and Author. He is also the Entertainment Editor for Black Media Daily, a 24/7 media outlet providing a voice for black content creators and a place to control their image throughout the Diaspora. Stuart is also the co-author of the book Blueprint which discusses the everyday tactics of winning.