Our Grants For 2012

The Board met during September 2011 to discuss grant applications. As a result of that discussion, the Board made the following grants to six worthy organizations.

Click on each Grantee’s name below to read about their organization and the case for which they received funding, and to view their six-month report, year-end report, and case update.

Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) ensures human rights protections and access to justice for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.NIJC provides direct legal representation to thousands of immigrant women, men and children. This service informs NIJC’s critical work in the areas of policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.This unique approach enables NIJC to meaningfully and effectively seek broad-based systemic change.

Through strategic litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals, NIJC seeks to uphold constitutional protections, regardless of citizenship status. NIJC challenges laws, policies, and practices that violate constitutional and human rights standards related to the interpretation of the Refugee Act, judicial review, procedural fairness, impartiality, and overly broad interpretations of deportable offenses.

THE CASE: Through the Barbara McDowell and Gerald S. Hartman Foundation grant, NIJC will engage in strategic litigation to promote the positive development of refugee jurisprudence as it relates to “particular social groups” for purposes of asylum. In particular, NIJC will advocate for the courts to recognize gender as a “particular social group” that merits protection, consistent with international law standards.  NIJC will formulate and promote legal arguments that support this interpretation of the law and respond to “floodgates” concerns that have been employed by adjudicators to deny protection to victims of gender-based violence.  NIJC will collaborate with colleagues and pro bono attorneys to raise these cases in strategic venues.

Contact: Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center, 208 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1818, Chicago, IL 60604

Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota’s mission is to provide quality immigration legal services, law-related education, and advocacy to meet the steadily increasing needsof Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee communities. ILCM’s Appellate Litigation Project provides and facilitates high quality representation for immigrants before the U.S. Courtof Appeals and Board of Immigration Appeals, prioritizing cases with the potential to benefit large numbers of immigrants in Minnesota and immigrants across the United States.

THE CASE: A grant was made for legal work related to the case of Sandoval v. Holder, 641 F.3d 982 (8th Cir. 2011), a case originating in Minnesota which will address ifunaccompanied alien children can be subject to permanent inadmissibility to the United States for making a false claim of U.S. citizenship.

Contact: Ben Casper, Appellate Litigation Project Director, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, 450 North Syndicate Street, Suite175, Saint Paul, MN 55104.

Legal Aid Justice Center

Founded in 1967, the Legal Aid Justice Center provides civil legal assistance to low-income families and individuals in Virginia with a special focus on vulnerable populations, including children, immigrants, the elderly, and the institutionalized. Our mission is to seek equal justice for all by solving clients’ legal problems, strengthening the voices of low-income communities, and rooting out the inequities that keep people in poverty. Our Civil Advocacy Program, one of our five main program areas, focuses on housing, health and mental health services, consumer protection, employment and unemployment, and public benefits.

THE CASE: To keep public housing affordable for lower-income households, the United States Housing Act directs that the resident’s share of rent in most federally assisted housing programs be limited to no more than 30% of the household’s adjusted monthly income. This tenant housing payment includes both rent and the additional costs for reasonable amounts of utilities that are not included in the rent. In an effort to ensure that residents’ basic housing costs are appropriately limited, federal guidelines require local housing authorities to justify, document and update the schedule of utility allowances for their residential units. Tenants’ usage is metered and they are billed for amounts over the allowance. It is generally expected that only a small minority of tenants will receive excess charges on a monthly basis. On behalf of a group of affected tenants, we are investigating noncompliance with these requirements by a local housing authority. We have not yet filed suit.

Contact:  Alex R. Gulotta, Executive Director, Legal Aid Justice Center, 1000 Preston Avenue, Suite A, Charlottesville, VA 22903

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

NCLEJ was founded in 1965, in the heyday of the civil rights movement.  From the very start, NCLEJ joined with southern civil rights lawyers in landmark cases, worked with community-based organizations around the country, won ground breaking victories in the courts and committed resources to bring about legislative reform.  Through these early successes, NCLEJ demonstrated that the law can be a powerful instrument for improving the lives of the most disadvantaged members of our society.

For the past 46 years, NCLEJ has led the way in promoting economic justice, fairness and opportunity for those in need; securing systemic reform in the delivery of income support and related human services; and safeguarding important legal and constitutional rights.  Our mission today continues to be to advance the cause of economic justice for individuals, families, and communities through litigation, policy advocacy, and support for grass roots organizing.

THE CASE: NCLEJ will advocate to (1) require the State to timely process applications for Medicaid and CHiP and (2) prevent implementation of a policy that will force hundreds of eligible families from the Medicaid rolls.  Previously, Hawaii continued Medicaid uninterrupted until it had reason to believe the family ineligible.  It is estimated that, the new policy, by forcing all families to periodically recertify for eligibility, even in the absence of a change in circumstances (a process known as churning), will result in 30% of eligible households being terminated for reasons unrelated to eligibility.

During the grant period, we plan to use a variety of tools to compel timely processing of applications and, if necessary, to stop unlawful terminations of eligible families.  We will leverage the experience acquired in comparable work in other states to achieve improvements in agency practices and to institute oversight that will serve both as a management tool and as a means of measuring process.

Contact: Marc Cohan, cohan@nclej.org

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, D.C., serves as the legal arm of the national movement to end and prevent homelessness.Through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education, the Law Center works to meet the short-term needs of homeless people while addressing the root causes of their condition.

THE CASE: Uncomfortable with visible homelessness in their communities and influenced by myths about homeless persons’ food access, cities across the country are using laws banning or restricting food-sharing by charitable groups to move homeless persons out of sight.In 2006, the city of Dallas enacted such a law, limiting distribution of food to a small number of locations, none of which were chosen based on their accessibility.The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty is challengingthis law on behalf of Big Heart Ministries and Rip Parker Memorial Ministries, whose food-sharing efforts have been stymied by the city.The Law Center is asserting that the law: 1) violates Plaintiffs’ right to freely express their religious beliefs under the First Amendment and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act; 2) violates Plaintiffs’ right to due process, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment; 3) violates homeless persons’ liberty interests in the right to food, asguaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment; and 4) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Contact: Andy Beres (aberes@nlchp.org, (410) 375-7259)

The Public Justice Center

The Public Justice Center is a nonprofit public interest law office, founded in Maryland in 1985, that seeks to enforce and expand the rights of people who are denied justice because of their economic status or discrimination. The PJC uses individual, class action, and appellate litigation, legislative and administrative advocacy, and public education to advance our mission of “pursuing systemic change to build a more just society.”

THE CASE: A grant was made to the PJC to support litigation to require that the State of Maryland comply with legal requirements for the timely processing of applications for Medicaid for adults who are blind or disabled (MA-ABD) and for those seeking long term care benefits (MA-LTC). Recipients of MA-ABD are very poor and, by definition, extremely ill or severely impaired and in need of medical care. There were approximately 17,494 pending applications for MA-ABD statewide in May 2011, well past the 60 and 90 day deadlines for processing applications. Under Maryland and federal law, applications for  MA-LTC must be processed within 30 and 45 days.  In spite of these requirements and intense pressure from advocates, nursing homes and consumer groups, applicants for MA-LTC typically wait six months to one year or longer to receive a long-term care eligibility determination. Thus families and applicants do not know whether they are going to be able to pay the nursing home bill accumulating each day, suffer from high levels of anxiety and stress due to the lingering uncertainty, and daily face the possibility of involuntary discharge for nonpayment.  Nursing homes are providing care without knowing whether or when they will be paid for that care. 

Contact: John Nethercut, Executive Director, Public Justice Center, nethercutj@publicjustice.org; 1 N. Charles St., Ste 200, Baltimore, MD 21201

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