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Homelessness in America: What is the long-term solution?


Homelessness in America: What is the long-term solution?

The following article was published December 16, 2011 on the Equal Justice Works (EJW) website. It features Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., George Thomas. Read below, or view on the EJW website.

The holiday season is a time when many of us, focusing on our own family and home, are also acutely aware of those who are homeless. Many organizations run campaigns to help the homeless during the holiday season as they know the stories of individuals and families who are struggling will pull at our heartstrings. But homelessness isn't a seasonal crisis – it affects the lives of millions of people around the country and is worthy of our attention year round.

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 3.5 million Americans are likely to experience homelessness. Of this number, the National Coalition for the Homeless reported that between 2009 and 2010 1.6 million individuals used transitional housing or shelters.[i]

Helping the homeless means more than providing temporary shelter and a warm bed for the night, or a warm meal and caring thoughts during the holidays. To alleviate homelessness, we must work on what causes it. Equal Justice Works Fellow, George Thomas is doing just that. George created his fellowship project with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. to address the causes of poverty and homelessness and find long-term solutions to overcome economic disparity in Toledo, Ohio.

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Home Energy Assistance Program


Home Energy Assistance Program

The following appeared on Gongwer News Service (http://www.gongwer-oh.com) November 2, 2011.

Heating Program: The state has announced the kick-off of its winter heating program to provide assistance to low-income and elderly Ohioans.

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Region must fight poverty


Region must fight poverty

The following Op-Ed piece by ABLE Executive Director Joeseph Tafelski appeared Sunday, December 4, 2011 in the Toledo Blade. Read below, or view on The Blade's website.

The Blade's recent series "Sudden Descent" and new academic studies of the rise in concentrated poverty in the Toledo area confirm what we know from our experience: More people in northwest Ohio are being driven into poverty, and there is a growing separation between those who live in poverty and those who do not.

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality and Legal Aid of Western Ohio provide free legal services to low-income people and groups in northwest Ohio. Our attorneys encounter the many reasons people find themselves in poverty.

These include loss of employment, loss of housing through eviction or foreclosure, a lack of meaningful educational opportunities, financial exploitation, domestic violence, and inability to pay medical bills because of a lack of health insurance.

We also see every day the need for strong community partnerships and collaboration to address these problems. Toledo must have thoughtful, forward-thinking planning to provide meaningful and effective solutions.

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Changes to early voting rules could hurt Dems

AUGUST 29, 2011

Changes to early voting rules could hurt Dems
Analysis: Dems more likely than Republicans to vote early.

The following article, written by Ken McCall, appeared Sunday, August 21, 2011 in the Dayton Daily News. ABLE attorney Ellis Jacobs is quoted in the story. Read below, or view on DDN's website.

A Republican-sponsored state law designed to curb voter fraud by significantly limiting the number of days to vote early has a greater potential to hurt Democrats than Republicans, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of voter patterns from the 2008 presidential election.

The Daily News examined precinct-level voting results in five counties and found that Democratic voters were much more likely than Republicans to come to boards of elections offices and vote early in the 2008 presidential election, especially in urban counties.

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Addressing the Justice Gap


AUGUST 24, 2011

Addressing the Justice Gap

The following editorial appeared on the NY Times website August 23, 2011. Read below or view on The Times' site.

Most low-income Americans cannot afford a lawyer to defend their legal interests, no matter how urgent the issue. Unless they are in a criminal case, most have no access to help from government-financed lawyers either.

In civil proceedings like divorces, child support cases, home foreclosures, bankruptcies and landlord-tenant disputes, the number of people representing themselves in court has soared since the economy soured. Experts estimate that four-fifths of low-income people have no access to a lawyer when they need one. Research shows that litigants representing themselves often fare less well than those with lawyers. This “justice gap” falls heavily on the poor, particularly in overburdened state courts.

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Fighting drugs a legal matter on all sides


AUGUST 10, 2011

Fighting drugs a legal matter on all sides

The following article, written by Mike Ford, appeared Friday, August 5, 2011 in the Delphos Herald. LAWO Attorney Upendra Patel is quoted in the story.

To make a drug-related arrest, law enforcement must build a case with a certain amount of proof. When that is yet to be obtained, residents in the area of a suspected drug trafficker who rents an apartment may look to the landlord for help. Landlords can check with police when dealing with prospective tenants. This is the best way they can protect local neighborhoods from criminal behavior. After a leasing agreement is signed, both parties are bound by it and a landlord must show some evidence either the contract or the respective statute has been broken in order to evict.

Upendra Patel is an attorney with Legal Aid of Western Ohio who specializes in Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law. He said how easy or difficult it is for a landlord to evict depends on the leasing contract and the details of each situation.

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ABLE files Title VI civil rights complaint


AUGUST 11, 2011

ABLE files Title VI civil rights complaint with the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration alleging the City of Beavercreek's refusal to allow Dayton RTA bus stops near the Fairfield Commons Mall illegally discriminates against African Americans.

 
The following article, written by Mark Gokavi, appeared in the Dayton Daily News August 10, 2011. ABLE Attorney Stanley Hirtle is quoted in the article. Read the article below, or view on the DDN website.

Group alleges Beavercreek violated Civil Rights Act

A coalition of local churches announced Wednesday it has filed a complaint to federal agencies alleging the Beavercreek City Council violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying an application to install three public bus stops near the Mall at Fairfield Commons.

An attorney for Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton Inc., or LEAD, held a press conference on the steps of the Tony Hall Federal Building in Dayton to announce that the council's March 28 vote to reject the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority's request for the bus stops near the mall constituted discrimination.

The group is calling on the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Civil Rights and the United States Department of Transportation to conduct a Title VI compliance investigation into the denial and Beavercreek's actions.

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Increasing Efficiency and Access to Legal Aid


AUGUST 9, 2011

Increasing Efficiency and Access to Legal Aid

The following appeared in LSC's 2010 Annual Report. Read the article below or view the PDF version on LSC's website.

Legal aid programs across the country are always looking for new ways to improve efficiency and increase access to the client population in their service area. Because of limited staff and resources, the systems that LSC programs use to conduct client intake—most often telephone hotlines and in-person interviews—are often overwhelmed by the demand for legal services, resulting in frustrated clients who have pressing legal problems. Now, because of an LSC Technology Initiative Grant (TIG), an innovative model is providing LSC programs with an opportunity to augment traditional intake methods with online intake.

In the fall of 2007, LSC awarded TIG funding to Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO) to develop a new, user-friendly online intake system designed for clients who need alternatives to the traditional 9-to-5 telephone and in-person application process. The online project began in 2008 and was completed in 2010.

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ABLE helps entrepreneurs with legal assistance project


JULY 26, 2011

ABLE helps entrepreneurs with legal assistance project

The following article written by Duane Ramsey appeared July 24, 2011 in The Toledo Free Press. Anneliese Gryta (ABLE) is featured in the article. Read below, or view the contents on the Free Press website.
An attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) in Toledo is conducting a Microenterprise Legal Assistance Project to provide free legal services to local entrepreneurs who can't afford an attorney.

"The project aims to help people achieve greater economic stability with their own resources. We fill in the missing pieces by providing legal counsel," said Anneliese Gryta, an attorney with ABLE, who developed and now leads the project.

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LSC Annual Report Highlights Importance of Access to Justice


JULY 21, 2011

LSC Annual Report Highlights Importance of Access to Justice

LSC Press Release: July 21, 2011

Washington, DC— The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today released its 2010 Annual Report, highlighting efforts by the nation’s single largest funder of civil legal assistance to promote equal access to justice.

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2011 Access to Justice Awards ceremony


JUNE 1, 2011

2011 Access to Justice Awards ceremony

The 12th Annual 2011 Access to Justice Awards ceremony was held Tuesday, May 10 at the Pinnacle in Maumee, Ohio. The dinner, presented by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. (ABLE), Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO), and Toledo Bar Association Pro Bono Legal Services was attended by more than 500 people.

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House Proposal Would Cut Civil Legal Aid by $104 Million


JULY 7, 2011

House Proposal Would Cut Civil Legal Aid by $104 Million

LSC Press Release: July 6, 2011

Washington, DC— Funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) would be cut by 26 percent in Fiscal Year 2012 under a proposal announced by the House Appropriations Committee today. The Committee bill proposes a $300 million budget for LSC—rolling back LSC funding to a level not seen since 1999.

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Money theft from elderly on rise locally, nationwide


JULY 5, 2011

Money theft from elderly on rise locally, nationwide
Lucas County cases up 8% in fiscal year, to 119

The following article by Julie M. McKinnon appeared July 4, 2011 in The Toledo Blade. ABLE Ombudsman Crecia Decker is quoted in the story. Read the contents below, or view the article on The Blade's website.

A Sylvania Township registered nurse gains power of attorney for an elderly man in her care, eventually taking hundreds of thousands of dollars. A man supposedly assisting a visually impaired elderly woman helps himself to tens of thousands of dollars. Another man takes money to do repairs for elderly homeowners but allegedly never does the work.

All are cases of financial exploitation involving seniors in Lucas County, a crime that is on the rise both locally and nationally.

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Bill requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote on fast track for approval


JUNE 29, 2011

Bill requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote on fast track for approval
House approved it in March, the Senate expected to pass it this week.

The following article, written by Laura A. Bischoff from the Columbus Bureau appeared Wednesday, June 22, 2011 in the Dayton Daily News. ABLE attorney Ellis Jacobs is quoted in the story. Read below, or view the contents on the DDN website.

COLUMBUS -- Ohio voters will be turned away from polls on Election Day unless they show government-issued photo identification under a bill that is on the fast track for legislative approval.

The bill is expected to win Senate approval this week. The Ohio House voted 57-38 along party lines in favor of the measure in March.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted opposes the identification provisions in the current bill and believes that in situations when photo ID is not readily available, full Social Security numbers must be an option, said his spokesman, Matt McClelland.

The new bill would take away the non-photo identification options from current law.

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Even After Mortgage Modification, Shoddy Bank Practices Hurt Homeowners


JUNE 4, 2011

Even After Mortgage Modification, Shoddy Bank Practices Hurt Homeowners

The following article, written by Paul Kiel appeared June 2, 2011 on ProPublica's website. ABLE attorney Andrew Neuhauser is quote in the story. Read below, or view the contents on ProPublica's site.

Chanel Rosario was supposed to be one of the lucky ones. After years of sending and re-sending documents, waiting on hold and attending court hearings to avoid foreclosure on her Staten Island home, she'd finally received a much-needed reduction on her mortgage. Eagerly, she and her husband signed it and mailed it in last September. "We thought it was over."

It wasn't. After months of making payments, Rosario called the bank handling her mortgage, Chase Home Finance, and found out Chase was still reporting her as delinquent, damaging her credit score and putting her home in jeopardy. Despite months of trying to get an explanation with the help of a legal-aid attorney, she still doesn't know why Chase isn't abiding by the agreement.

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LSC Programs Gear Up to Help Flood Victims


MAY 19, 2011

LSC Programs Gear Up to Help Flood Victims

The following is an LSC press release from May 19, 2011.

With the surging Mississippi River devastating numerous communities, civil legal assistance programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) are participating in disaster response meetings and making preparations to help low-income individuals and families affected by flooding.

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Billie Johnson, others, are recipients of community advocacy awards


MAY 20, 2011

Billie Johnson, others, are recipients of community advocacy awards

The following article about the 2011 Access to Justice Awards Dinner appeared in The Toledo Journal on May 19, 2011. Read below, or view the contents on the Journal's website.

Billie Johnson, a founder and president/CEO of the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio Inc., has won the Community Advocacy Award.

Ms. Johnson received the award May 10 during the 2011 Access to Justice Awards dinner at The Pinnacle Restaurant in Maumee. More than 500 people attended the dinner.

She shared her honor with Dr. Elizabeth S. Ruppert. The other Justice Awards recipients were: Paul T. Belazis, who was the Public Interest Law Award recipient; and Laurie J. Pangle, who was the Distinguished Service Award recipient.

The Advocates for Basic Legal Equality In., Legal Aid of Western Ohio and Toledo Bar Association Pro Bono Legal Services presented the dinner.

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Americorps helps homeowners avoid foreclosure


MAY 3, 2011

Americorps helps homeowners avoid foreclosure

The following article, written by Lou Grieco, appeared May 2 in the Dayton Daily News (DDN). ABLE attorney and AmeriCorps Team Member Lauren Dreshman is featured in the story. Read below, or view the article on the DDN website.

DAYTON — When Donnie Thomas faced his sixth foreclosure filed against him in nine years, he finally showed up with an attorney.

The difference was clear: He also finally got a true loan modification needed to save his home.

"We regularly see clients who have agreed to prior 'modifications' that were not in their best interest and cause them to re-default," said Lauren E. Dreshman, an attorney working with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., a nonprofit regional law firm.

Dreshman, 28, got Thomas' loan changed from an adjustable rate that, at the time, was at 14.25 percent, to a 5 percent fixed loan. She is one of 14 Equal Justice Works "fellows" in Ohio. Eight of those, including Dreshman are funded by AmeriCorps.

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Law Day 2011


APRIL 29, 2011

Law Day 2011

Statement of John G. Levi
Chairman, Board of Directors | Legal Services Corporation

President Dwight D. Eisenhower celebrated our nation's commitment to the rule of law in his inaugural 1958 proclamation designating May 1 as Law Day, calling on Americans to "vigilantly guard the great heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under law which our forefathers bequeathed to us."

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ABLE and LAWO File Federal Complaint On Behalf of Ohio Premature Infants


MARCH 29, 2011

ABLE and LAWO File Federal Complaint On Behalf of Ohio Premature Infants

Toledo, OH – On March 28, 2011, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.(LAWO) filed a federal court complaint on behalf of premature infants in Ohio. The complaint alleges that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) illegally and arbitrarily places exclusions on federally mandated Medicaid coverage for the physician-recommended treatment for preventing illness caused by the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). The Complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio Western Division. Federal law requires Ohio's Medicaid program to cover Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPDST) services for Medicaid-eligible children and youth. Under federal law, EPSDT must include "necessary health care, diagnostic services, treatment, and other measures... to correct or ameliorate defects and physical and mental illnesses and conditions discovered by the screening services..."

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Ohio may require voters to show a photo ID


MARCH 24, 2011

Ohio may require voters to show a photo ID

The following article by William Hershey appeared Monday, March 21, 2011 in the Dayton Daily News (DDN), The Middletown Journal, the Springfield News-Sun, and the Hamilton Journal-News. Read below, or view on the DDN website.

If you vote on Election Day or cast an absentee ballot in person, you would have to provide photo identification under legislation that could come up for a House committee vote today.

Currently, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document showing the voter's name and address may be used as well as photo IDs to vote.

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Baby Vanessa case revealed flaws in state's parental registry system


MARCH 23, 2011

Baby Vanessa case revealed flaws in state's parental registry system

The following article by Mary McCarty, appeared Saturday, March 19, 2011 in the Dayton Daily News. Read below, or view on the DDN website.

The "Baby Vanessa" custody hearing was, first and foremost, a wrenching personal matter for two families, with the future of a 2-year-old girl at stake.

But it was also an epic legal battle that involved 10 lawyers, eight days in court spread over eight months and an untold number of man hours. Until last Monday, it seemed destined to last several more years.

Then, at the last minute, the parties reached an unexpected settlement giving permanent legal custody to Stacey Doss of California, who has raised Vanessa since birth, while granting visitation rights to her paternal grandmother, Rena Jordan of Middletown.

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Slashing Civil Legal Aid


Slashing Civil Legal Aid

The following appeared in the New York Times on March 8, 2011. Read below, or view on the Times' website.

PRESIDENT’S F.Y. 2010-11 REQUEST: $407 MILLION

The editorial is part of series that explores the impact of the penny-and-pound foolish cuts the House Republicans want to impose.

House Republicans voted to cut $83 million from President Obama’s request for the Legal Services Corporation, the federally financed nonprofit program that provides civil legal help to low-income Americans.

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2011 Access to Justice Awards Dinner


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reception 6:30 p.m. (Cash Bar)
Dinner and Awards Ceremony 7:00 p.m.

The Pinnacle

1772 Indian Wood Circle | Maumee, Ohio
Tickets: $100 per person

Featured Speaker

Patricia J. Williams

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