BronxWorks Legal Services Department Helps Clients Navigate Complex Situations

The BronxWorks Legal Services Department has grown over the past decade to meet a rising need seen throughout the Bronx for reputable, honest, and accessible legal services. BronxWorks offers legal help with preparing and submitting applications for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, assisting on housing law and eviction cases, and providing legal services for victims of crimes and domestic violence survivors.     

BronxWorks has provided legal services for immigrants for over 20 years. The programs, which are based out of the Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center, as well as out of Neighborhood Development Areas (NDAs), concentrate on providing assistance with applications for immigration benefits. Services include citizenship applications, family petitions, general consultations, adjustment of status, renewals, and more. BronxWorks staff assist clients and help prepare legal applications free of charge, however clients must still cover any application and/or filing fees. BronxWorks Legal Department staff, wherever possible, will assist with filing waivers for fees associated with various applications, although these waivers are not guaranteed. In addition to legal assistance, BronxWorks Immigration Services also provide English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Citizenship classes. 

“Clients oftentimes come to us in vulnerable positions and are very much in need of help. Our staff are embedded in the community and understand what some people are going through. They make every effort to first and foremost provide an honest analysis of each client’s case and to educate them on the services that are available to them.” 

In addition to immigration services, the BronxWorks Legal Services Department offers assistance to people with housing issues and eviction cases, crime victims, and domestic violence survivors. A Housing Attorney works in conjunction with the BronxWorks Homebase Eviction Prevention program, helping to address various issues that may come up during a client’s eviction case, such as mediating relations with landlords, protecting tenants and making sure they are treated fairly throughout the eviction or court process, negotiating settlements, addressing any repairs or maintenance responsibilities on the part of landlords, and more.  

Similarly, dedicated attorneys and staff provide legal assistance to individuals who are innocent victims of a crime, including elder abuse, or survivors of domestic violence. On behalf of victims, the programs can address any issues that can come up related to a case, including loss of benefits, predatory debt issues resulting from a crime, filing for orders of protection, filing for legal status without an abusing spouse, among other assistance. BronxWorks also has dedicated staff who help victims of elder abuse in all its forms: physical, emotional, verbal, and financial. The staff assist seniors with obtaining restraining orders, accompany them to court, and help them attain any additional assistance they need while working closely with the police, the Bronx District Attorney’s office, and Adult Protective Services. The staff are also part of a Multi-Disciplinary Task force which offers an array of supportive services to victims of crime.

In many important ways, BronxWorks Legal Services Department is assisting vulnerable members of the community to navigate complex and daunting situations. They are helping residents of the Bronx understand their rights as it pertains to housing and evictions. They are helping new migrants from BronxWorks Family Residences and Family Sanctuary to properly apply for legal immigrant status and work authorization. To date, the Legal Services Department has prepared applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 150 migrant families. They are also assisting innocent victims of crimes and survivors of domestic violence through some of their most-vulnerable positions to retake their own protection and safety, re-possess if possible any of their losses, and re-gain control over their well-being.

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