Civil Legal Aid
Thousands of low-income fighting to obtain or keep the essentials of life—including home, job, benefits and family—face the complexities of the civil justice system without legal counsel. They are five to 10 times more likely to lose. Orpe Human Rights Advocates created the Division of Legal Services to assist homeless, low-income families, and veterans to reduce this gap.
Many challenges faced by low-income and homeless are actually legal in nature and can be fought with an attorney. Unaddressed, the challenges remain barriers to success, even when basic needs are met by other excellent service providers.
Housing & Homelessness
Ninety percent of landlords are represented in eviction proceedings, while only 10 percent of poor facing eviction have an advocate. We help low-income Marylandese fighting to obtain, keep, and maintain the safety of their homes. We help tenants who are threatened with eviction, whose landlords withhold repairs and basic services, and who suffer harassment. By preserving housing for low-income tenants, we prevent homelessness, displacement, and disruption of family life and communities.
Consequences of Criminal Charges
After a criminal sentence is complete, additional legal and social penalties, barriers and disabilities remain. Each year, thousands of individuals are released from prison to face the 45,000 "collateral consequences" of their conviction. We reduce the legal barriers that a criminal record erects, including cancelling incarceral debt, clearing arrest records and more. Unaddressed, these barriers prevent returning citizens from obtaining housing and employment and can result in recidivism and/or homelessness.
Child support obligations that exceed the capacity of low-income parents harm the entire family. A non-custodial parent whose support is not aligned with their income will experience debt accrual, which hastens enforcement action and heightens fear. Without representation, these parents may disengage from work and from their child. We help non-custodial parents align their child support orders with their income so that payments can be made in full and on time. This results in better outcomes for both parents and children.
Poor Face the Justice Alone
Thousands of people are unrepresented in Maryland State each year. The lack of affordable legal assistance negatively impacts the stability of individuals, families, communities and institutions. We provide assistance (e.g. referrals and resources) to New Yorkers of all backgrounds in diverse areas of law, from trusts and estates to consumer debt disputes and more.
Many low-income and homeless New Yorkers are not aware of the public benefits available to them and do not know how to navigate the complexities of the system. We help clients obtain all the life-sustaining benefits to which they are entitled, including food stamps, Social Security, unemployment insurance and rent assistance. These prevent homelessness and hunger.
Low-wage workers are too often denied the right to work in safe, healthy and fair conditions. These workers can experience wage theft, illegal termination, and intimidation when they seek to enforce their basic rights. We assist workers with wage and hour claims, unemployment benefit hearings and occupational licensing hearings.
Orpe Legal Aid can mean a home, a chance to work, benefits and more for low-income
The core of our legal system is built on the premise that stands for effective representation. People accused of a crime are entitle to one, no matter they can afford it. But there is no guarantee when it comes to civil disputes - like evictions and child custody cases - even though basic survival can be at stake. The social workers at the Orpe Human Rights Advocates Intervene to make sure that the homeless, low-income families, and veterans are effectively represented in a civil litigation.