Mission: To protect and strengthen the legal rights of people in new york state who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised through: systems change advocacy, training and support to other advocates and organizations, and high quality direct civil legal representation.
Programs: Disability benefits: empire justice contracts with new york state to provide legal assistance to individuals in western new york who have been inappropriately denied or terminated from federal disability and supplemental security income programs. In 2017, empire justice administered a sub-contract with lawny to provide these regional services. In 2017, 343 cases were closed in the region, generating approximately $559,178 in interim assistance to clients and an additional $2,524,878 in retroactive benefits. In 2017, the western new york disability advocacy program (dap) won 75% of cases. Empire justice also contracts with the state under dap to provide training, support and technical assistance to local grantees throughout the state.
foreclosure prevention: in 2017, empire justice continued its role as anchor partner as designated by the nys attorney general in efforts to combat foreclosures in new york. In this role, empire justice oversees 54 legal services and housing counseling contracts, oversees data collection and provides statewide training, support and technical assistance to grantees. Empire justice also provided direct representation to homeowners at risk of foreclosure in the greater rochester area. In 2017 assistance was provided to 140 homeowners who were victims of predatory lending and/or who were at risk of foreclosure. The foreclosure prevention work of empire justice center achieved restructuring and refinancing of clients' predatory loans, saving them tens of thousands of dollars over the life of their loans.
consumer, housing and community reinvestment (cra): to provide legal assistance, training, support and advocacy in areas of consumer law, bankruptcy, fair housing, and community reinvestment. Funded through a variety of grants and contracts, including the city of rochester for community reinvestment act for work in the greater rochester area.
crime victims: empire justice partners with the new york state office of victim services, the university at albany's center for human services research, and pro bono net on the new york state crime victims legal network project, a federally-funded project that brings awareness to the many civil legal needs of crime victims, while also helping victims access civil legal assistance. The network focuses on the 57 counties outside of new york city. In 2017, the partners began developing content and the technology for the key components of online resources, namely the triage tool, the help directory, self-help resources, and the advocate gateway. Empire justice center's westchester offices also provide civil legal services to victims of crime, serving 299 crime victims in 2017. Health: empire justice provides statewide training and technical assistance to legal services, other community-based organizations and local health center staff on public health programs to help them in determining eligibility for and access to affordable health coverage. As a contractor to provide assistance under health care reform, empire justice is part of the community health advocates (cha) network. In 2017, our staff provided 14 trainings to 821 community based health advocates presenting topics such as "mandatory managed long term care," "health care reform, and "intro to health insurance for new advocates. " our attorneys and paralegals also provided substantive technical assistance to 29 cha member agencies assisting them with complicated legal issues and cases. The new york state office for the aging contracts with empire justice to provide training and assistance on issues involving medicare part d. Other/general: these funds were used to fulfill the core mission of empire justice center and to provide services in such areas as domestic violence, public benefits and immigration; to provide services on long island through the public advocacy center; and to support the hanna s. Cohn equal justice fellowship. In providing these programs and services, in calendar year 2017, the organization offered 182 training events, issuing 986 continuing legal education (cle) credits and reaching over 8,358 participants. Training topics included: "returning to work with hiv: effect on government benefits," "pro bono name changes for transgender clients," "translated orders of protection and remote access to family court," "immigrant access to benefits," "making the most of technical defenses in residential foreclosure cases. " the empire justice website, with a vast array of legal resources, experienced 134,557 unique visitors who viewed 7,671,706 pages of material and downloaded 9,679 resources during 195,632 visits. Empire justice staff closed 2,221 direct service cases during 2017, directly benefiting 4,108 people.