NH Campaign for Legal Services http://www.nh-cls.org Equal Access to Justice for All Wed, 21 Jun 2017 20:14:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2016 Annual Report http://www.nh-cls.org/2016-annual-report/ http://www.nh-cls.org/2016-annual-report/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 17:27:36 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=4012 Coming soon …..  

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Celebrating Legal Aid in New Hampshire http://www.nh-cls.org/celebrating-civil-legal-aid-new-hampshire/ http://www.nh-cls.org/celebrating-civil-legal-aid-new-hampshire/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 19:11:52 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3922 The post Celebrating Legal Aid in New Hampshire appeared first on NH Campaign for Legal Services.

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Thanks to the support of nearly 40 sponsors and 350 attendees from across the state, the 2017 Campaign Kick-off Breakfast was our most successful Kick-off yet.

YOU – our sponsors and attendees – pledged more than $90,000 to support civil legal aid in New Hampshire!

That means, thanks to YOU, thousands of families will have access to legal advice and representation, and be able to protect their homes, their families’ safety and their livelihoods!

Here is just a taste of the happenings from the Campaign Kick-off Breakfast on May 9.

Keynote Speaker Jim Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, delivered his address, which address three key points:

1. “Equal access to justice is a fundamental American value.”

2. “How are we doing? Are we living up to our ideal?”

3. “Well, what can we do about it? What can each of us do to ensure that the quality of justice someone receives doesn’t depend on the amount of money they have?”

Click on any photo to enlarge the photo and begin the slideshow, then click the arrow on the left of the photo to scroll to the next photo:

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Join us for the 2017 Campaign Kick-off! http://www.nh-cls.org/join-us-2017-campaign-kick-off/ http://www.nh-cls.org/join-us-2017-campaign-kick-off/#respond Mon, 01 May 2017 17:02:08 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3914 Click here for details!

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Click here for details!

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How legal aid ensured educational parity for New Hampshire’s female inmates http://www.nh-cls.org/legal-aid-ensured-educational-parity-new-hampshires-female-inmates/ http://www.nh-cls.org/legal-aid-ensured-educational-parity-new-hampshires-female-inmates/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:43:09 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3831 Thirty years ago, New Hampshire Legal Assistance began representing female inmates in the state prison system. This month, that work is featured in NH Magazine: At that time, there was no prison at all for women; they were shipped out of state to serve their sentences, as far away as Colorado and Maryland. “It was […]

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Thirty years ago, New Hampshire Legal Assistance began representing female inmates in the state prison system. This month, that work is featured in NH Magazine:

At that time, there was no prison at all for women; they were shipped out of state to serve their sentences, as far away as Colorado and Maryland.

“It was appalling, both morally and legally,” says Elliott Berry, managing attorney at NHLA’s branch in Manchester. “So many had children and family here. How do you keep families together, have a family to come back to, with that kind of distance?”

In 1987, a federal court found in favor of an NHLA client who claimed the state had violated the equal protection rights of female prisoners. The judge ordered New Hampshire to provide a prison for women in the state, and two years later, the women’s prison in Goffstown opened.

The facility was said to be inadequate from the start, not equal to what the men had. In 2009, the League of Women Voters studied the men’s prison to the women’s in relation to preparation for release. The disparities were alarming: Men had eight vocational programs; women had three. Men had a large space to work in, while the space for women was small to nonexistent. Men had classrooms to pursue GEDs, high school diplomas and college-level courses, with general and law libraries as resources; for women, there was limited classroom space and an emphasis only on GEDs.

Only two women had earned a high school diploma at the prison in 20 years.

After decades of working for equal opportunities for female inmates, NHLA advocates Elliott Berry and Candace Cappio Gebhart toured the progress at the construction site of a new prison facility in Concord last summer. The new facility is designed to bring the female inmates better access to mental health treatment and career training, with an eye to reducing recidivism.

After decades of working for equal opportunities for female inmates, NHLA advocates Elliott Berry and Candace Cappio Gebhart toured the progress last summer at the site of a new women’s prison facility in Concord. The new facility is designed to bring the female inmates better access to mental health treatment, educational opportunities and career training, with an eye to reducing recidivism.

To honor NHLA’s decades of work fighting for equal access to opportunity for all people in New Hampshire, please consider a gift to the Campaign today.

The first time Michelle Vanagel was released from the Goffstown facility, she moved in with her sister because she had no money and no job. “With felonies on my record, I couldn’t pass a background check,” she says. “No company would even look at me.”

It wasn’t long until she heard the call of her old life. She moved into a rooming house in Nashua — a “crack shack,” she calls it. She started using and selling drugs again, and soon got caught and back in prison. The third time she was in prison, she took part in an intensive drug treatment program. It helped. She’s clean and sober today and determined to stay out of prison.

Her success is no thanks to a vocational program at the women’s prison. Unlike the men’s prison, the women’s prison has a dearth of vocational programs that teach marketable skills, because there is no space for it.

“When the men get out, they have a trade,” says Vanagel. “They can earn $15 or $16 an hour. Women end up waitressing or something like that for $8 an hour.”

Crocheting, sewing, painting bird houses, and some business and computer classes is about it.

“Goffstown is such an inappropriate physical environment to provide anything close to equal conditions for vocational training opportunities,” Berry says.

In 2011, Berry represented four female inmates — Michelle Vanagel was one of them — in a class-action lawsuit to require the state to provide equal protection in several aspects of prison life, including educational and vocational programs. That prompted action to get construction going on the new prison. Groundbreaking happened in August 2014. It’s slated to open this fall, with programs that prison officials say will provide the skills most transferable to the community.

If you believe in supporting the critical legal aid that made this progress possible, please consider a gift to the Campaign today.

 

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Thank you, 2016 Campaign supporters! http://www.nh-cls.org/thank-2016-campaign-supporters/ http://www.nh-cls.org/thank-2016-campaign-supporters/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:23:59 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3805 The post Thank you, 2016 Campaign supporters! appeared first on NH Campaign for Legal Services.

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2016 Total thermometerThank you to everyone who made the 2016 Campaign for Legal Services a success!

We beat our goal of raising $275,000 to support New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center. Thanks to you, thousands of people around our state will have access to qualified, specialized legal aid when they face a crisis that could destabilize their lives.

 

Click below to read stories of how YOU helped people through legal aid in New Hampshire!

Abby's legal aid success story: Escaping abuse and starting over

When Abby filed for a restraining order and requested supervised visitation, she thought some time apart might serve as a wake-up call for how her husband’s abuse had hurt the family.

He retaliated by cashing out his 401k, hiring an attorney and filing for divorce.

At their first hearing, Abby represented herself.

The judge ruled that she was entitled to only $50 per month in child support, despite being able to work only part-time to care for all four children.

“I just didn’t have the language, I didn’t know the laws, and his lawyer just mopped the floor with me,” she said. “After it was over, I sat and cried for three hours.”

With legal help, Abby was able to increase the amount of child support she receives each month to a more reasonable level.

“I never would have been able to get through the divorce on my own. Having someone knowledgeable and capable, it was a huge relief. No one expects this to happen to them, but it’s so wonderful to have someone that knows what they’re doing and can say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’

“It’s not easy being a single parent, but I did what I had to do for my children. Legal aid picked up and did what I couldn’t do myself.”

Enrique's legal aid success story: Keeping his home, and his job

enriqueEnrique is a 54-year-old veteran living in Manchester. When he suddenly lost his job, he fell behind in rent. Enrique found a new job, but his landlord had begun the eviction process, including a request for hundreds of dollars beyond what Enrique owed.

Compounding Enrique’s anxiety, the landlord filed the case in Portsmouth, where he lived. Enrique does not have a vehicle to make that trip, and even if he did, he did not want to cause trouble at his new job by asking for time off so soon after starting.

Enrique connected with an NHLA attorney who successfully filed a request for the case to be heard in Manchester, instead of Portsmouth. The attorney then negotiated with the landlord to stop the eviction and correct the amount owed.

Enrique loves his new job, and is making payments on his debt to his landlord. Without NHLA, Enrique says he thinks he would have had to move to a homeless shelter or back to the streets. Without a stable home address, he doubts he would have been able to keep his new job.

“I’ve always worked, and I’ll pay what I owe,” Enrique says. “My landlord is willing to work with me now because he knows I have legal aid backing me up. Honestly, legal aid probably saved my life.”

Eleanor's legal aid success story: I couldn't imagine living anywhere else

Ikey and her husband Bob bought their home in 1952, excited to live near White Park in Concord, where they had met and where both spent hours playing and skating growing up in the 1940s.

In the little grey house, the only one they ever owned, Bob and Ikey raised their three kids. The couple stayed healthy enough as they great older to continue living in their home into their 90s, with a little help and lots of visits from children, grandchildren and great-children.

Despite a limited income, they were able to afford keeping the house in part thanks to a state law that reduces property taxes for low-income elderly residents.

Ikey is now 96, and living alone after Bob passed away in late 2013. In June 2014, the city assessing department told her she was no longer eligible for the tax credit. They had used the income she and Bob received together in 2013, and applied it to her household status of one person for 2014.

“I’m a pretty laid back person, but that just set me off,” said her son-in-law George. He set out to find a lawyer who could help Ikey appeal the ruling. He found Elliott Berry at NHLA.

“Elliott really went above and beyond my farthest expectations. I knew in the back of my mind, it would have killed her if she had to leave this house,” George said.

The day her appeal was approved was “a happy day, a very happy day,” Ikey said. “Here I am. It means everything to me. I just can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

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What your gift can mean toward access to justice http://www.nh-cls.org/gift-can-mean-toward-access-justice/ http://www.nh-cls.org/gift-can-mean-toward-access-justice/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:06:20 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3697 Your gift to the Campaign, alone or in collaboration with gifts from other supporters, can mean so much to a family in need of access to justice. A gift of $250 can provide a consultation with an advocate, so a disabled single mother like Kelli can fight an illegal eviction on her own in court: […]

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Your gift to the Campaign, alone or in collaboration with gifts from other supporters, can mean so much to a family in need of access to justice.

A gift of $250 can provide a consultation with an advocate, so a disabled single mother like Kelli can fight an illegal eviction on her own in court: Kelli

“Before, I felt like I was all alone, like I had no teammates, and (my advocate) made it seem like I had a big team, even if it was just one person.”

Kelli’s advocate wrote a motion to help her get the case dismissed, and explained how she should present her case. Then Kelli went to court on her own and argued, successfully, against the landlord’s experienced attorney.

“I wasn’t even that scared,” she said. “It’s a life saving thing. When you’re so low and you’ve got no resources, when someone makes you think, ‘I can get through this,’ that just means the world.”

A gift of $2,500 can secure time for an attorney to appeal the denial of benefits for a veteran like Horace: Horace-1024x683

Horace* spent two years in the Air Force starting on his 18th birthday, and re-enlisted in the National Guard when he returned home to Littleton.

During his time with the Guard, he suffered a back injury that left him with herniated disks, unable to lift much weight, or stand or sit for extended periods of time. It effectively ended his career in construction and trucking.

One of the hardest moments, Horace said, was realizing he couldn’t afford a present – even from the dollar store – for his granddaughter’s fifth birthday.

“If it wasn’t for (my advocate) I would still be fighting to get my disability benefits. It’s just made such a difference. I’m no longer on food stamps. It gave me back some of my pride.”

*Client name has been changed

Five gifts of $5,000 can provide full representation for a survivor of domestic violence, like Abby, to obtain a divorce, safe parenting plan and adequate child support:

When Abby filed for a restraining order and requested supervised visitation, she thought some time apart might serve as a wake-up call for how her husband’s abuse had hurt the family.
He retaliated by cashing out his 401k, hiring an attorney and filing for divorce.
At their first hearing, Abby represented herself.
The judge ruled that she was entitled to only $50 per month in child support, despite being able to work only part-time to care for all four children.

“I just didn’t have the language, I didn’t know the laws, and his lawyer just mopped the floor with me,” she said. “After it was over, I sat and cried for three hours.”
With legal help, Abby was able to increase the amount of child support she receives each month to a more reasonable level.
“I never would have been able to get through the divorce on my own. Having someone knowledgeable and capable, it was a huge relief. No one expects this to happen to them, but it’s so wonderful to have someone that knows what they’re doing and can say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’

 

Click here to make a secure online donation today to help provide access to justice for more people in New Hampshire every day.

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Breaking News from the NH Supreme Court http://www.nh-cls.org/nhla-tanf-nh-supremecourt/ http://www.nh-cls.org/nhla-tanf-nh-supremecourt/#respond Thu, 04 Aug 2016 15:33:54 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3691 August 2, 2016: New Hampshire Legal Assistance wins Supreme Court appeal on behalf of low-income parents of children with disabilities Federal assistance for children with severe disabilities is designed to support their special – and often expensive – needs. It shouldn’t be diverted to meet the basic needs of other family members. But that’s what […]

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August 2, 2016: New Hampshire Legal Assistance wins Supreme Court appeal on behalf of low-income parents of children with disabilities

Federal assistance for children with severe disabilities is designed to support their special – and often expensive – needs. It shouldn’t be diverted to meet the basic needs of other family members. But that’s what New Hampshire expected low-income families with children with disabilities to do, until a successful challenge by two mothers represented by New Hampshire Legal Assistance.

Today, the New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously ruled that federal Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, for a child with a disability cannot be counted as household income available to an entire family if that family applies for state benefits. This decision invalidates a state rule instituted as a result of state budget cuts in 2011-12.

Chief Justice Linda Dalianis, writing for the court, held that “the rule violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution,” which “does not permit the State to redirect federal benefits” under the rule.

“Under the plain language of the [federal] regulations, a child’s SSI benefits may be spent only on that child’s current maintenance, i.e., the child’s food, shelter, clothing, medical care and personal comfort items,” Chief Justice Dalianis wrote. “Congress intended the SSI program… to provide disabled children with the minimum amount necessary to satisfy their basic needs.”

“New Hampshire’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is the most basic, fundamental lifeline for families in desperate need,” said Ruth Heintz of New Hampshire Legal Assistance. “We are so happy, for our clients and for every other family struggling to care for a child with a disability, that the Supreme Court recognized the impossible dilemma this rule created.”

Carrie Hendrick filed a suit against the state in June 2014 to challenge New Hampshire’s practice of treating the SSI of poor children with severe disabilities as income available to the whole family for the purpose of determining eligibility for the state TANF program. Ms. Hendrick and her six children were then forced to survive on the SSI payments meant to cover the special needs of two children.

Ms. Hendrick lost $850 of monthly support for her family because of the new policy. Thanks to her advocates at New Hampshire Legal Assistance who worked for more than two years on her case, she and other low-income parents of children with disabilities will have access to this crucial safety net again.

Will you give $850 to the Campaign to celebrate this win for New Hampshire families?

Upon invitation from the Court, the U.S. Department of Justice submitted a powerful amicus brief supporting the mothers’ case, noting the rule change was financially motivated, as the Legislature sought to reduce TANF spending by more than $9 million by terminating or reducing benefits to more than 1,500 households.

The Disability Rights Center – NH also submitted an amicus brief in the case on its own behalf and on behalf of the New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators and the National Disability Rights Network; all three organizations supported the mothers’ position.

“Families caring for children with disabilities often face immense obstacles to financial security, including extraordinary costs of care and loss of parental income,” said Andrew Milne, staff attorney with DRC-NH. “Today, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has restored the rights of thousands of children with disabilities and their families to receive the full benefit of two programs that are crucial to helping them overcome these obstacles and meet their basic needs.”

New Hampshire Legal Assistance attorneys will work to ensure that the Supreme Court’s decision is properly implemented.

“Ruth Heintz, Lititgation Director Kay Drought and many others did admirable, important work on behalf of our clients and the many low-income families across the state who will be positively impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision,” said NHLA Executive Director Lynne Parker.

“But the work is not yet done. Now, we will seek to ensure that indigent children with disabilities actually receive the benefit of the SSI the way Congress intended.”

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Justice Matters, summer 2016 edition http://www.nh-cls.org/justice-matters-summer-2016-edition/ http://www.nh-cls.org/justice-matters-summer-2016-edition/#respond Wed, 03 Aug 2016 18:08:06 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3686 Thank you for reading the summer 2016 edition of the Campaign’s newsletter, Justice Matters. BREAKING NEWS! August 2, 2016: NHLA wins Supreme Court appeal on behalf of low-income parents of children with disabilities: Federal assistance for children with severe disabilities is designed to support their special – and often expensive – needs. It shouldn’t be […]

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Thank you for reading the summer 2016 edition of the Campaign’s newsletter, Justice Matters.

newsletter logo

  • BREAKING NEWS! August 2, 2016: NHLA wins Supreme Court appeal on behalf of low-income parents of children with disabilities: Federal assistance for children with severe disabilities is designed to support their special – and often expensive – needs. It shouldn’t be diverted to meet the basic needs of other family members. But that’s what New Hampshire expected low-income families with children with disabilities to do, until a successful challenge by two mothers represented by New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Click here to read more.
  • National study highlights the importance of legal aid for veterans: According to a new study from the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least five out of the top 10 problems leading to homelessness among veterans cannot be solved without legal help. New Hampshire Legal Assistance is building partnerships with community health centers to reach low-income Granite Staters, including veterans, who have civil legal needs affecting their health.
    The New Hampshire Bar News recently profiled the program, and spoke to Helen Curry, the partner of a disabled veteran, about how legal aid helped them avoid homelessness when their apartment building was sold to a new developer who terminated their lease after 14 years.
    Click here to read more about how legal aid keeps our veterans and our communities healthy and strong.
  • New federal funding for legal aid for crime victims: This year, for the first time, the federal government has allowed states to use funding through the Victims of Crime Act to support civil legal aid for victims of domestic violence and stalking as they navigate the civil legal system.
    The Associated Press covered the news: “Of the more than 5,000 domestic violence and stalking victims who filed restraining order petitions in the state in 2015, just 9 percent received legal help, according to the court system.
    With the new money, New Hampshire Legal Assistance will hire two attorneys focused solely on domestic violence and stalking cases, more than doubling the organization’s current capacity to help victims.
    The Legal Advice and Referral Center will hire an additional intake screener, and the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program will launch a statewide program to help stalking victims and work to recruit more private volunteer attorneys.
    The organizations’ goal is to identify victims early and begin helping them at the start of the court process. Victims often don’t know what information to include to ensure their restraining orders are granted and they win fair child support.”
    Click here to read more about how this new funding will help victims and survivors like Abby, above, provide safety and stability for their families.
  • Legal aid in Action: “In January, me and my partner had a domestic violence issue, and we separated. He couldn’t come anywhere near the house, and I was left with all the bills, the house, the car. I couldn’t afford it. I went to the management but they gave me an eviction notice. They didn’t even try to work with me. I had to do everything I could so I wouldn’t be homeless in the cold. I couldn’t go to the wet shelter. It’s absolutely no good for anyone that’s in recovery. It’s a wet shelter. People can bring in drugs, they can bring in alcohol and there’s too much at stake for me. I didn’t have to do that, because the time frame LARC gave me make all the difference.” Click here to read Samantha’s Legal Aid Success Story
  • Systemic advocacy: NHLA maintains a consistent presence at the State House, lobbying on legislation within our poverty law practice areas, and has a robust practice before administrative rulemaking agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, New Hampshire Employment Security, and the Public Utilities Commission. The 2016 legislative session ended as an especially successful year, capped by reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (Medicaid expansion). NHLA worked closely with the large and diverse group of stakeholders – from hospitals and insurance companies to the Business and Industry Association to substance use and mental health advocates – that won reauthorization this essential program, which serves nearly 50,000 low-income Granite Staters. Click here to read a review of NHLA’s work in the legislative session

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NHLA’s Fair Housing Project celebrates 20 years http://www.nh-cls.org/nhlas-fair-housing-project-celebrates-20-years/ http://www.nh-cls.org/nhlas-fair-housing-project-celebrates-20-years/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2016 19:35:50 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3665 It’s been 20 years since New Hampshire Legal Assistance started our Fair Housing Project. We’d like to celebrate by introducing you to two new staff members who recently joined this work to promote equal access to housing in New Hampshire. Funded mostly through grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHP provides […]

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It’s been 20 years since New Hampshire Legal Assistance started our Fair Housing Project. We’d like to celebrate by introducing you to two new staff members who recently joined this work to promote equal access to housing in New Hampshire.

Funded mostly through grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHP provides civil legal aid to clients with disabilities when they need to obtain accommodations in housing situations; defends clients facing unlawful evictions and files discrimination complaints with administrative agencies or in court, among other work. The FHP also engages in systemic advocacy by providing training throughout the state on fair housing topics and by advocating for changes in laws, ordinances and policies that have a negative impact on protected class members (based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, age, marital status, or sexual orientation).

This year, Liliana Neumann and Victoria Horrock boost the number of Fair Housing Project members to seven.

Founded in November 2015, the Fair Housing Project at New Hampshire Legal Assistance now includes seven members: Ruth Heinz, Ben Mortell, Project Director Chris Wellington, Victoria Horrock, Maria Eveleth and Liliana Neumann. (Not pictured, Elliott Berry.)

Founded in November 2015, the Fair Housing Project at New Hampshire Legal Assistance now includes seven members: Ruth Heintz, Ben Mortell, Project Director Chris Wellington, Victoria Horrock, Maria Eveleth and Liliana Neumann. (Not pictured, Elliott Berry.)

Neumann joins NHLA as a bilingual in-take coordinator and assistant for the project’s fair housing testing program, which works to root out discriminatory practices in rental housing that would otherwise go undetected. Testers are trained to pose as prospective renters and to report on their experiences which are then analyzed in order to determine whether housing providers are engaging in fair, consistent and lawful practices.

A native of Mexico, Neumann previously worked at Catholic Charities in Manchester as a paralegal, translating and helping Spanish-speakers navigate the immigration process. She originally trained to be an industrial engineer, but she found the work “too dry, and too cold,” she said.

“I have enjoyed my work most when I am able to communicate with people who wouldn’t have known their rights otherwise. I want to help people as much as I can,” she said.

Horrock, a graduate of Tulane University Law School, joins the FHP as a staff attorney. She entered law school hoping to find work in a civil legal aid organization that would allow her to fight for clients fair housing rights.

After her undergraduate work, Horrock had planned on a career in international human rights. Working after graduation with an organization that did development work in the Middle East, she helped handle an asylum case which relied on the Fair Housing Act that inspired her to go to law school.

“Fair housing is such a linchpin civil rights issue that is tied to a family’s ability to choose the schools for their children, to access clean water,” she said. “I just think the Fair Housing Act is really cool.”

 

Save

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New federal funding for legal aid for domestic violence victims http://www.nh-cls.org/new-federal-funding-legal-aid-domestic-violence-victims/ http://www.nh-cls.org/new-federal-funding-legal-aid-domestic-violence-victims/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2016 19:18:54 +0000 http://www.nh-cls.org/?p=3657 This year, for the first time, the federal government has allowed states to use funding through the Victims of Crime Act to support civil legal aid for victims. New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center, along with the Pro Bono Program of the NH Bar Association, recently received $1.1 million for […]

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This year, for the first time, the federal government has allowed states to use funding through the Victims of Crime Act to support civil legal aid for victims.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center, along with the Pro Bono Program of the NH Bar Association, recently received $1.1 million for three years of work helping victims of domestic violence and stalking as they navigate the civil legal system.

The Associated Press covered the news:

Of the more than 5,000 domestic violence and stalking victims who filed restraining order petitions in the state in 2015, just 9 percent received legal help, according to the court system.

 

With the new money, New Hampshire Legal Assistance will hire two attorneys focused solely on domestic violence and stalking cases, more than doubling the organization’s current capacity to help victims. (The new attorneys will work with crisis centers in Strafford, Rockingham and Hillsborough counties.)

 

The Legal Advice and Referral Center, which connects victims with crisis centers and lawyers, will hire an additional intake screener. And the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program will launch a new statewide program to help stalking victims and work to recruit more private volunteer attorneys.

 

The goal of the organizations is to identify victims early and begin helping them at the start of the court process. Victims often don’t know what information to include to ensure their restraining orders are granted and they win fair child support.

This new grant is a crucial step toward restoring the level of legal aid that was available for low-income New Hampshire residents before significant cuts in public funding in 2011. We know domestic violence victims live in all corners of our state, from our large cities to our isolated rural towns.

Abby Howard and her daughter, Kristen, play with their cat at her home in Gilsum, N.H., Thursday, July 7, 2016. When Howard decided to seek a restraining order against her husband in 2012, she had no legal help to navigate the civil court system. Her husband, meanwhile, hired a lawyer who helped him lower his monthly child support payments and file for a divorce. The mother of four with a part-time job, felt outsmarted and unsure how to best advocate for her and her children. She eventually found a lawyer through New Hampshire Legal Assistance, a nonprofit that provides free services to low-income victims. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

When Abby Howard decided to seek a restraining order against her husband in 2012, she had no legal help to navigate the civil court system. Her husband, meanwhile, hired a lawyer who helped him lower his monthly child support payments, from about $800 to $50, and file for a divorce. Howard, a mother of four with a part-time job, felt outsmarted and unsure how to best advocate for her and her children. “I left that hearing feeling like his lawyer had totally mopped the floor with me,” Howard, a resident of Gilsum, New Hampshire, said. “It was a terrible feeling.” Howard eventually found a lawyer through New Hampshire Legal Assistance, a nonprofit that provides free services to low-income victims. Her attorney helped her push back against the child support reductions and ensure she got a fair deal in the now-finalized divorce. Howard was one of the rare victims who had access to legal help. But many more low-income people soon will have similar access. Howard hopes sharing her story will encourage other women to come forward and ask attorneys for the help that they need. “It’s just a world of difference having good legal representation,” she said.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

The Campaign is continuing our work to bridge the gap between the need and the available public resources through outreach to individuals and businesses statewide.

Click here to make a secure online gift to support programs that ensure survivors like Abby have access to justice to provide safety and stability to their families – no matter where they live.

 

 

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