Meet Noah Patton, the 2016-2017 Linda Kennedy Fellow

Noah Patton, 2016-17 Linda Kennedy Fellow

Noah Patton, 2016-17 Linda Kennedy Fellow

The 2016-2017 Linda Kennedy Fellow, Noah Patton, is a second-year student at the University of Baltimore School of Law. “I saw the listing for the Fellowship and thought, Wow, this for my exact skill set!” Noah said. His goal for his legal career is to work on legal advocacy at the state level. Noah, a Maryland native, was a summer legal intern at the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, where he worked with OAG attorneys assigned to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and with OAG attorneys in the Medicaid Fraud Unit.

The Linda Kennedy Fellowship in Advocacy honors the late Linda Kennedy, Esq., a courageous and determined advocate for persons with disabilities and persons without housing. Linda was a champion for equal treatment of our clients and neighbors who struggle with homelessness.  Her tireless work, particularly with people seeking to overcome barriers to housing and employment imposed by criminal records, had a significant impact in our community.  Linda provided critical representation to our clients in their efforts to expunge arrest records and resolve collateral issues related to criminal records.  Linda’s deeply caring manner with which she addressed the needs of each client was special.

The Linda Kennedy Fellowship in Advocacy provides a second- or third-year law student with an internship at HPRP to work on policy and systemic issues that promote an end to homelessness in Baltimore City and in Maryland.

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Fasanelli joins new ABA commission to help veterans

ABA President Linda Klein

ABA President Linda Klein

At last week’s ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, ABA President Linda Klein announced the Veterans Legal Services Initiative, a new commission to mobilize lawyers and help build a comprehensive online resource to direct veterans to legal resources and legal providers. HPRP Executive Director Antonia Fasanelli is a member of the 20-member volunteer commission.

“These are men and women who have signed a piece of paper saying they would die for us, for our country, in defense of our liberty,” Klein said in outlining her plans at the meeting. “When our justice system fails these people, we as a profession must answer our own calls and oath on their behalf.”

For more information on the commission, click here.

HPRP Executive Director Antonia Fasanelli

HPRP Executive Director Antonia Fasanelli

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Jane Harrison Speaker Series to feature “Evicted” author Matthew Desmond

"Evicted" author Matthew Desmond

“Evicted” author Matthew Desmond

The Jane Harrison Speaker Series on the Importance of Housing, an annual event sponsored by HPRP, has brought a wide range of experts to Baltimore.  This year’s Speaker Series features Harvard professor Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.  The free event will take place on September 29, 2016 at the University of Baltimore and is co-sponsored by the Public Justice Center and the Baltimore Bar Foundation.

Dr. Desmond will speak about his research into eviction and its impact on the lives of those living in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Following Dr. Desmond, a panel representing tenant, landlord, and judicial perspectives will discuss housing and eviction issues, and solutions, in Baltimore, where 7,000 families are evicted each year.

The event is FREE and open to the public. Join us for a reception at 6:00 pm and the program at 7:00 pm. A book-signing will follow the program. Copies of EVICTED will be available for purchase.

For more information and to register (required), click here.

Photo: Michael Kienitz

 

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A family can move out of single room after its Section 8 voucher is restored

Senior Staff Attorney Karen Wabeke

Senior Staff Attorney Karen Wabeke

After a Baltimore woman and her two teenage sons were evicted from their apartment for failure to pay rent, she received a notice saying her Section 8 voucher was terminated. The woman came to HPRP and senior staff attorney Karen Wabeke reviewed the court records.

“I discovered that client’s landlord had obtained two rent judgments (after she had paid her rent late) that covered several of the same months,” Karen said. “Lawfully, you can only get one rent judgment for each month.”

At a hearing, Karen presented the client’s rent receipts.  “The hearing officer overturned the voucher termination,” Karen said. “The client and her sons had been renting (and sharing) a single room since their eviction and are excited to be searching for a new home with their voucher.”

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Help children to a better future

Did you know? Research shows that children whose families move to low-poverty neighborhoods when they are young are far more likely to attend college and earn significantly more as adults, and are less likely to become single parents. The HOME Act will help connect Baltimore County’s children to a brighter future! Learn more at http://bit.ly/BalHOME

HOME Act 3

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Advocates welcome introduction of Baltimore Co. HOME Act

HOMEact2Baltimore County HOME Act Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    Contact: Samantha Kappalman

July 5, 2016                                                    The Hatcher Group
443.223.3322

County Advocates Welcome Introduction of the HOME Act
Baltimore County Council legislation would ensure fair treatment of renters
throughout the county

BALTIMORE COUNTY, MD. – This evening, City Council President Vicki Almond, acting on behalf of the County Executive, will introduce the Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act (HOME Act) for consideration before the Baltimore County Council.

The HOME Act will protect renters throughout the county by prohibiting landlords from discriminating against them based on their source of income. In the bill, source of income means any lawful source of funds used to rent housing, including money from lawful employment, any government or private assistance, and any gift such as an inheritance or alimony. The bill will not increase the number of housing vouchers or expand the program in any way.

For more information on how you can support Baltimore County’s HOME Act, click here.

Currently, many landlords and property managers in Baltimore County do not treat housing choice vouchers or the people who use them fairly – often only accepting them in certain neighborhoods or certain apartment complexes. This practice has left the county’s 5,800 housing choice voucher holders concentrated in just a few communities and makes it very difficult for people who receive housing vouchers to find a place to live.

“The HOME Act will stop discrimination against voucher holders and help to break up the concentrations of poverty that exist in the County,” says Antonia Fasanelli, Executive Director of the Homeless Persons Representation Projects, Inc. “By stopping this discrimination and treating people with lawful sources of income fairly and equally, we give elderly persons, veterans, persons with disabilities, and other individuals and families the ability to live closer to their jobs and better job opportunities, the ability to live closer to their families and friends, and the ability to live near better schools for their children.”

Being able to live close to family is especially important for people with disabilities, who make up 30 percent of housing choice voucher holders.

“Without their families, many differently-abled people essentially become trapped in their homes; likewise, opportunities for employment diminish if they aren’t living in areas of opportunity,” says Reverend Marlon Tilghman, a longtime housing advocate in Baltimore County. “Living in an accessible home close to your loved ones and work makes a huge difference in your quality of life.”

Myesha Allender was paralyzed in a car accident more than eight years ago and is now confined to a wheelchair. Since leaving the nursing home in 2008, she has struggled to find a landlord who will accept her housing choice voucher. She has yet to find a wheelchair accessible home that is located in a decent neighborhood where she feels that she and her four children will be safe.

“I want to live in an opportunity area for me and my children, so they can get a good education,” says Allender. “I look forward to the day when people will look at me like I am a human being, and not just see my housing voucher.”

Under the HOME Act, landlords will still be able to screen their tenants based on other criteria like evaluating their rental history. Some landlords and property managers welcome the change.

“As a Baltimore County landlord, the HOME Act does not impede my right to determine tenancy based on good credit and good past tenancy,” says Yara Cheikh, who owns and manages rental properties in the Towson area. “As a Baltimore County resident and education advocate, I believe this bill makes our county fairer and stronger.”
Some renters try for months and even years to find a landlord willing to take a housing voucher as a type of payment for rent. Housing vouchers, which are issued by the county’s Office of Housing, work like any other rent payment.

There is a work session where public comments will be heard on July 21 at 2 p.m. The county council will vote on the HOME Act on August 1.

Please tell your council person you support the Baltimore County HOME Act by sending them a comment here.

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The following organization are members of the Baltimore County HOME Act Coalition:

Baltimore County Communities for the Homeless
League of Women Voters, Baltimore County
NAACP, Baltimore County Chapter
MedStar at Franklin Square Medical Center
Catholic Community at Relay, Baltimore County
Community Assistance Network (CAN)
Public Justice Center
Homeless Persons Representation Project
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake
St. Mark of Catonsville
Central Md. Ecumenical Council
Jews United For Justice
IMAGE Center
Women Embracing Abilities Now (WEAN)
BRIDGE
Camp Chapel United Methodist Church
Dundalk Renaissance Corporation
Southeast Network
Healthcare for the Homeless
Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc.
Beyond the Boundaries, Archdiocese of Baltimore
Episcopal Housing Corporation
Lazarus Caucus
Catonsville Emergency Assistance
Streets of Hope
Citizens Planning and Housing Assoc.
Women’s Law Center
AARP of Maryland
Greater Hillandale Community Association

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Mother now getting benefits that were illegally denied

Staff attorney Dalton Collins

Staff attorney Dalton Collins

With the help of her HPRP lawyer, a 25-year-old Baltimore mother will now receive Temporary Cash Assistance that was illegally denied her.

In April, she met staff attorney Dalton Collins at a One Baltimore for Jobs (1B4J) intake site. 1B4J is U.S. Dept. of Labor-funded job training program for at-risk youth and young adults in Baltimore.

The client told Dalton she was concerned because she had applied for TCA from the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (DSS) at the beginning of April and had not received a decision on her application.

Dalton agreed to investigate the status of her claim for benefits. Upon reviewing the client’s file with DSS, he discovered that her case had been unlawfully denied just one week before he began his investigation.

“Under the law, participants in the TCA program must cooperate with the state in seeking child support for their children from absent parents,” Dalton said. “In denying her request for TCA benefits, DSS said she had not cooperated. However, there was a document in the file proving she had, in fact, fully cooperated.”

Dalton immediately negotiated a reversal of the agency’s denial with the DSS. The client was then paid the benefits she was denied for April and is entitled to TCA benefits of over $500 per month for the next year.

 

 

 

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