For nearly 40 years VOLS has helped low-income New Yorkers access justice for their civil legal challenges. VOLS provides free, civil legal services to older adults, veterans, immigrant youth, children and their families, mothers in prison or jail, adults entitled to benefits, and small business owners. One example of how we serve our community is through the VOLS Senior Law Project (SLP). VOLS SLP assists older adults and veterans with limited income in securing legal documents, so they can make key decisions for incapacitation, end-of-life, and posthumous care.
VOLS SLP has a Veteran’s Initiative which provides culturally competent services to empower older New Yorkers who served in the military to age in place and with dignity, access their legal rights, and live without fear of homelessness. VOLS client PM is a 60-year-old veteran who is determined to be 100% disabled by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. When PM fell behind on his rent and utility payments during the pandemic, his application for New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was incorrectly denied by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). VOLS’ team sprang into action and filed an Article 78 challenging this erroneous denial and asking the Court to order arrears payments and to pause Housing Court proceedings so PM would not be evicted while this case was pending. OTDA agreed to pay the bulk of PM’s ERAP claim and is now processing paperwork for additional months. With our assistance, PM received $14,000 towards both his rent and utility arrears, easing the burden of uncertainty over his housing status and well-being.