Homelessness is a sad reality for thousands of veterans in New York State. An estimated 21,000 of New York’s 1,000,000 veterans are homeless. Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. (LawNY), a non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal assistance to veterans, is working towards decreasing that number. This year, AmeriCorps VISTA members in the LawNY Geneva and Rochester offices are helping to combat homelessness and other problems that veterans commonly face in our communities.The AmeriCorps VISTA members will work to sustain and further develop the efforts of previous VISTA members.
The Veteran Outreach Project aims to make more veterans aware of the free civil legal services available to them and their families through LawNY. For those veterans just looking for legal information, LawNY operates a Veterans Hotline. Phil Dailey, a veteran and paralegal at LawNY in Geneva, describes this hotline saying, “any vet from anywhere can call with any issue.” The Geneva office will give the veteran, or family member of the veteran, information about his or her legal problem. If LawNY cannot directly serve the veteran, advocates can refer the caller to other agencies.
The number for the Veteran Hotline is 315-828-0758.
The Rochester Office of LawNY has developed an innovative partnership with the Veteran Outreach Center (VOC) that helps veterans and their families with civil legal needs, with a focus on preventing or combating homelessness. The VOC is a non-profit community-centered organization that provides one-stop supportive services for veterans and their families. Two days a week, the Rochester Office of LawNY is onsite at the VOC to help veterans enrolled in the federally funded Services to Enable Positive Solutions (STEPS) program. The STEPS program helps homeless veterans and those at risk for homelessness with its wrap around services. "Our partnership with the VOC is a unique and innovative way for legal services to be provided to our veterans by reaching out to them in their comfort zone," says Hannah Nezezon, the lead attorney on the LawNY Legal Services for Veteran's Project. "Agencies across the nation are beginning to use our partnership as the model for meeting veterans' legal needs."
Since starting the Legal Services for Veterans Project and the Veterans Outreach Project the Rochester and Geneva offices of LawNY have helped more than 1,150 veterans in their communities.
For more information related to veterans’ benefits and other veteran related legal issues, visit LawHelpNY.org. The LawHelp website is an online resource that can assist veterans in finding legal help and information regarding issues such as housing, public benefits and family law. The veterans and military topic provides information on veteran related legal issues.
Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. is a not-for-profit law firm that provides access to the justice system to low-income individuals and other vulnerable populations who have civil legal problems. LawNY serves the following counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates.
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