News Tag: Investing in Justice Campaign|Legal Aid Organizations

June 26, 2017

Removing Barriers for People with Disabilities

Access Living was founded in 1980 as one of the nation’s first ten Centers for Independent Living (CILs). The organization’s goal is simple: to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as those without disabilities to conduct lives of dignity and independence. With departments specializing in independent living skills, advocacy, and legal services, Access Living provides a unique combination of assistance in championing the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities. Access Living is the only CIL that has a Legal Services Program, and it is this impactful program that you support through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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March 22, 2017

Improving Financial Stability One Tax Dispute at a Time

Mark was awarded a settlement from a wrongful death suit, but his legal problems did not end when he received the money. The IRS processed this money incorrectly, treating it as taxable income. At the point when Mark turned to the Center for Economic Progress (CEP) for assistance, he had an IRS balance exceeding $130,000 and a levy on his wages. A Taxpayer Advocate at CEP’s Tax Clinic was able to help him correct his account with the IRS. Because of CEP’s help, the IRS ended the wage levy, eliminated Mark’s balance, and refunded him over $16,000 for wrongfully levied proceeds.  Almost half of this money has gone to cover Mark’s student loan debt.

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December 20, 2016

More than a Century of Delivering Justice for People in Need

Whenever there needed to be a legal voice at the table, the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services had a seat. With former U.S. presidents on the board, and handwritten letters from Presidents Nixon and Roosevelt outlining their appreciation for the work the organization does, LAS has a legacy that is unparalleled.

As the second oldest legal aid organization in the nation, LAS, one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign, has been a pioneer in defining what justice for all really means. Founded in 1886, the organization was one of the first in the country to provide legal services for the poor. Its mission is to protect and strengthen families by providing equal access to justice for the most vulnerable citizens, including low-income people, the elderly and victims of domestic violence.

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November 16, 2016

Worth a Second Chance

The police did not know how to support her. The 12-year-old had repeatedly abused her guardian and seemed to be in an endless cycle of getting arrested and then hospitalized. Time and time again, she faced the criminal justice system, only to be subsequently failed by it.

The staff at the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign, quickly realized that her core issues were not being addressed. They fought within the school system, advocating that she be residentially placed. They argued that she was unfit to stand trial and could not be held responsible given her complex mental health issues. The court lacked the services to help her with these issues, so The Moran Center attorneys and social workers ensured she would receive these services from her school.

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October 19, 2016

Strengthening Organizations that Lift Communities

Breaking Ground had been providing education, job readiness, and employment services to Chicago’s North Lawndale community for years before seeking help from The Law Project, a program under Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign. Breaking Ground needed legal assistance with the purchase of a residential building to provide transitional housing for ex-offenders who successfully completed their job-readiness program, and The Law Project had the resources and expertise to help make that a reality. A partnership soon developed, and Breaking Ground continued to turn to the program for help with other legal matters, including a merger with another organization, partnership with general counsel, and tax issues.

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May 17, 2016

A Lawyer and a Priest’s Vision for Justice

After graduating from DePaul’s law school together in the early 1980’s, Ed Grossman and Bishop Thomas Paprocki (then a full-time parish priest) embarked on a mission to provide accessible and affordable legal services to the South Chicago community, which was suffering amidst the decline of the steel industry that had been the community’s economic anchor for decades.

The classmates adopted a sliding scale model for their organization so that they could provide services both for people who could afford to pay something and for those who couldn’t afford to pay anything.

At the time, Ed was a 24-year-old fresh-faced attorney and aspired to serve 300 people a year. Flash forward 35 years, and the organization, now known as the Chicago Legal Clinic (CLC), has some years served upwards of 40,000 people a year across dozens of Chicago communities.

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April 19, 2016

Reaching Beyond the Matter at Hand

Mary Ann Blakemore’s home was firebombed by her daughter’s boyfriend in a brutal attack that not only destroyed the elderly woman’s public housing apartment and nearly all her possessions, but left her hospitalized with third-degree burns. Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) officials so dragged their feet in securing her a new apartment, that Mary Ann had no home once she was finally released from the rehabilitation center many months later. Fortunately, Mary Ann sought help from a fierce advocate the dedicated attorneys in LAF’s Housing Unit.

In March, nearly a year later, the case settled with Blakemore receiving a new apartment and financial aid to help replace her belongings. Moreover, HACC agreed to retrain its employees on fair housing law, including protections for domestic violence victims and residents with disabilities.

The legal victory is one of several that have made headlines recently for effecting both significant individual impact and a lasting impact on housing law in Chicago.

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February 29, 2016

CARPLS Legal Aid’s Emergency Room

The phone rings. I answer to a woman frantically telling me that DCFS still hasn’t released her daughter to her care. Her daughter was taken from her pending an investigation of neglected supervision. I have to interrupt her in the midst of her plea to tell her that we do not provide direct legal services at the CBF.

The scenario plays out several times a day. Someone’s fighting an eviction, another is fighting for their child. One person is looking to turn their life around by expunging a record. They can’t afford a lawyer, but they’re clearly in need of legal help. I can’t personally help them, but I give them the legal version of 911. I refer them to CARPLS, Cook County’s free legal aid hotline and one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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January 26, 2016

CAASE Flips the Script on Sexual Exploitation

As a teenager, Joel ran away from a small, rural town in Michigan and eventually made his way to Chicago. At 21, he was addicted to crack cocaine and heroin. Fifty-seven arrests and six prostitution-related convictions later, Joel found himself off the streets and in prison.

It was difficult to see Joel as a victim at this point, but there was another side to his story. And legal aid would play a critical role in writing a new chapter.

Joel’s mom was murdered when he was three. He was sent to live with his mom’s family in Michigan, where he faced regular physical and sexual abuse. Growing up gay in an unwelcoming community only brought further abuse. He ran away from home as a teenager, ending up in Chicago in search of acceptance. Instead, he was introduced to crack cocaine and heroin by a pimp as a means to lead him into sex trafficking, and he suffered even more unimaginable abuse.

Somehow, during his time in prison, Joel found the strength and resilience to turn his life around against all the odds life had stacked against him. He got a GED degree, went to college, and worked his way up to a doctoral degree. But then, when he applied to get his professional license to take the next steps in his amazing revival, he ran into a legal brick wall due to his past contacts with the criminal justice system.

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December 16, 2015

I need legal aid, too

I need legal aid, too.

But not in the traditional sense. I am fortunate enough to have a home, a job, and good health. I need legal aid so that the community I live in functions better.

Shortly after I started at the CBF, I was tasked with penning the Campaign in Action blog series. The idea was simple: profile a legal aid organization supported through the CBF’s Investing in Justice Campaign, and give an overview of their legal aid services.

My background, I should note, is not in law, but journalism. I had never paid much attention to the legal system before, let alone legal aid.

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