Legal Aid News
Changes to health coverage? Updated information for Covered California
If you have questions about how recent actions taken by the federal administration may impact your health coverage, Covered California wants you to know that coverage renewal for consumers already enrolled in Covered California has begun, and open enrollment will begin on November 1 and end on January 31, 2018.
Legal Aid at "Seniors on the Square" in Redwood City
Legal Aid attorney Josh Grossman-Swenson represented Legal Aid at Redwood City’s “Seniors on the Square,” acknowledging June 16th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, to help seniors recognize the signs of elder abuse. The event brought together service agencies and nonprofits from around the Bay Area, focusing on the needs of seniors.
“The great thing about this event,” says Josh, “is that it draws seniors interested in a wide range of topics, who may be looking for relief from problems that they don’t even realize are actually legal issues, such as access to public benefits or financial abuse by a trusted family member. It gives us a chance to share the ways we can help in those areas where we can make a real difference to them.”
Click here to learn more about Legal Aid's services for seniors.
Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County Announces Receipt of Measure K Funding
In June, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authorizing an agreement with the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County to provide legal services supporting immigrant residents. The resolution was the culmination of a process that began with Supervisor Slocum's recommendation on March 28, 2017, that the County establish a legal assistance fund for immigrants in response to the aggressive actions by the federal government and the impact on our community. Supervisor Slocum and Supervisor Pine formed an ad hoc committee that met with Legal Aid and our partner agencies, Catholic Charities, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, and International Institute of the Bay Area, to develop a coordinated response.
The four partner agencies will share funding of $276,000 to provide free legal workshops on topics including Know Your Rights and Path to Citizenship; legal representation to immigrants pursuing affirmative immigration relief, including survivors of domestic violence and abused and neglected children; and brief services to San Mateo County residents affected by immigration enforcement operations. Community members, including representatives of Faith in Action, spoke in support of the resolution and urged the Board of Supervisors to provide additional funding for legal representation for immigrants in deportation proceedings.
Progress in the Fight Against Illegal Threats to Immigrant Tenants
Legal Aid is pleased to report that progress has been made in the fight against illegal threats to immigrant tenants.
Last week, AB 291, the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act of 2017, passed out of the California State Assembly. Legal Aid Directing Attorney Shirley Gibson played a role in providing San Mateo County data and testimony to the authors of the bill when Assemblymember David Chiu introduced the bill in February.
Says Shirley: "I am delighted that we are one big step closer to stronger legal protection for immigrant tenants in California, and look forward to passage in the Senate so that this important bill will become law."
You may read more about AB291 at David Chiu's website.
Director of Litigation David Carducci Addresses Second Annual Pro Bono Day
On Wednesday, May 2nd, Legal Aid Director of Litigation David Carducci addressedthe Second Annual Pro Bono Day, held at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, in Palo Alto, with his presentation “Fair Housing for Immigrants and People With Disabilities.”
Drawing upon his more than 20 years of civil litigation experience, including eight years practicing housing law at Legal Aid, David took attendees through the intricacies of Federal and State housing regulations.
Other topics included the eviction process, what safeguards are afforded to “protected classes” and immigrants, and the necessity for landlords to provide reasonable accommodation to those with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, including allowing service animals in a “no-pets” facility. As David reminded the audience, “It’s not just seeing-eye dogs: I know of at least one case where a doctor recommended a patient keep a snake for their emotional stability, and a landlord would have to accommodate that.”
David stressed the importance of civil legal aid in addressing housing issues: “Anyone who rents out property is a landlord, and there’s no supervising agency or ‘Landlord Board’ that tenants can complain to, if they have issues. The only resort is the legal system, and at the Legal Aid Society, we provide pro bono attorneys with the opportunity to help those in need, and to address issues of housing law that are becoming increasingly important as housing prices get further and further out of reach of our low-income clients.”
Legal Aid Staff Addresses Housing Issues on Univision
An important local resource for our Spanish-speaking community is TV's Univision Channel 14, and in recent weeks, Legal Aid Housing Coordinator Andreina Leon, and Directing Attorney Shirley Gibson, have been important contributors for Univision stories focusing on housing issues.
One segment focused on the increase in fear throughout the immigrant community of new and draconian enforcement and deportation policies. Though few such changes have actually taken place yet, "we have seen an alarming increase in racial/immigration status discrimination felt by tenants since the election," says Andreina, a fear that can be exploited by landlords wishing to pressure tenants to accept rent increases, or eviction, without formal legal process.
Andreina also provided commentary on a recent Univision story about unfit living conditions for low-income renters.
"We spoke about the right tenants have to a safe and habitable home which includes repairs and standard maintenance no matter their status or how much, or little, they're paying. We informed them of the steps they should take to document habitability problems and how to contact their local building inspectors."