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Hochul announces awardees of $25 million to offer free legal assistance to struggling tenants


Mon, Nov 15th 2021 03:45 pm

Expands access to legal services throughout New York state

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced the legal service providers who will be awarded portions of the $25 million in federal funding to offer free legal assistance and comprehensive housing stability services. The awardees will use the money to help renters avoid eviction in areas of the state outside of New York City where access to free legal aid is not available to meet the need of these renters. The legal assistance is aimed at helping both tenants and landlords resolve rent-related disputes and maintain tenants' housing stability.

"The pandemic has taken a tremendous economic toll on New Yorkers, and we have taken aggressive steps to provide rental assistance and relief to those struggling," Hochul said. "These six organizations have long been doing the critical work of providing legal services to vulnerable New Yorkers, and we are proud to partner with them to expand their ability to help tenants across the entire state."

Local grant recipients include

√ Legal Assistance of Western New York, awarded $4,515,111 to serve the Finger Lakes and parts of Western New York;

√ Neighborhood Legal Services, awarded $3,585,677 to serve part of Western New York;

Each provider is said to have extensive experience working with vulnerable populations, and is easily accessible to renter households in the regions they serve. Additionally, the selected service providers will work with other local organizations to ensure their services are broadly available to serve those most in need in all regions of the state outside of New York City.

State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Executive Deputy Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn said, "This funding will greatly expand free legal assistance for tenants to help them avoid eviction and stay in their homes. We are grateful for the legal services providers that are partnering with the state to support housing stability in communities throughout the state. Gov. Hochul's decisive action will undoubtedly help many New Yorkers to effectively resolve disputes with landlords and remain in their homes."

Assembly member Latoya Joyner said, "Tenants can be subject to eviction proceedings that could cost them their housing, their job, their access to a quality education and their mental and physical well-being. Having access to legal counsel is crucial for those families faced with eviction and is a great investment in expanding economic justice for all New Yorkers.”

Legal Aid of Western New York Executive Director Kenneth Perri said, "With the upcoming expiration of the moratorium on evictions on Jan. 15, 2022, this award of funding by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to LawNY allows us to expand our services to financially distressed renters who otherwise would face eviction and potential homelessness without representation by an attorney. Tenants in 13 counties will be able to be better served by our offices in Bath, Elmira, Geneva, Ithaca, Jamestown and Olean. On behalf of myself, the LawNY staff and board of directors and, most importantly, the clients that we serve, I express gratitude to OTDA for affording us this opportunity to expand our services to our communities in this unparalleled time."

Neighborhood Legal Services Inc. Executive Director Lauren Breen said, "Neighborhood Legal Services and our WNY legal services partners are extremely grateful for this critical OTDA funding that provides much-needed access to justice in order to prevent homelessness among NYS individuals and families who have suffered overwhelming financial and health challenges during the pandemic."

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