Medford musician fights eviction from home of 70 years

The trouble began after Joe Lentino took a reverse mortgage in 2007 to get out from under his debt. Then he lost some gigs playing in jazz bands. And he started missing tax payments on the modest white house where he’s lived for about 70 years. Read more…

Managers underpaid, stole tips, threatened, Happy Lamb Hot Pot workers say at protest

Workers assembled outside Happy Lamb Hot Pot in Central Square to protest alleged wage theft by management, which came to light during a legal clinic put on by Greater Boston Legal Services, according to GBLS attorney Bethany Li. Read more…

School Bullying Laws Not Being Followed

(WHDH) — Is there secret bullying going on in your child’s school? Investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan discovered who’s been leaving your kids at risk, and now changes are in the works. Read more…

Understanding Trauma’s Impact on Learning

Susan Cole, director of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, wrote about trauma’s impact on young students for The School Superintendents Association. The Initiative is a joint program of Harvard Law and Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

The principal of a small elementary school in central Massachusetts was approached by his staff with a request. They asked about their school becoming more responsive to trauma owing to the number of children in their classrooms who seemed to be facing adversity in their lives.

The principal met with the school nurse and the school district psychologist who was assigned to work with students at his rural school to discuss the matter. Together, they reviewed the records of students who were homeless or in foster care or otherwise had a known traumatic history.

“I was shocked when I realized how high the numbers were and stunned to see the overlap between these students and those who were functioning below grade level academically,” the principal stated. “While not all the children with traumatic histories were struggling, it was clear to me that adversity was a strong predictor of challenges in school and that we could not in good conscience ignore a plan for addressing the role of trauma in our school.”

That recognition was the launching point for this school making its entire environment trauma-sensitive. The effort started with setting up a learning community for staff to become more knowledgeable about how trauma affects a student’s ability to focus, behave appropriately and learn. The school’s administrators, teachers and staff read Helping Traumatized Children Learn (Vol. 1) and identified their priorities, including the need for a calmer environment, a steering committee to guide the work and involvement of all staff.

Under the principal’s leadership, staff created “peace corners” — physical spaces where students could learn how to self-regulate their behavior. The number of disciplinary office referrals began to drop sharply.

Read more…

Under Trump Administration, Some Vietnamese Immigrants Face Uncertain Fate

Bethany Li, director of the Asian Outreach Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services, spoke with WBUR for this story on Vietnamese immigrants’ reactions to the new immigration policies of the Trump administration.

It’s a Saturday afternoon at a community center in Dorchester. More than a dozen people sit in metal folding chairs, organized in a circle and leaning forward, listening to the free legal advice being offered.

Some people are at the workshop alone; others have young children with them. They’re all part of Dorchester’s large Vietnamese community. And, like Van Nguyen, they’re all here because they’re worried.

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“I mean it’s kind of, like, hitting home because my husband does not have citizenship and he’s got a past so we’re just kind of very nervous too,” Nguyen says.

There’s increasing anxiety among Vietnamese immigrants across the country.

Read the full story at

As rents soar in Boston, low-income tenants try to stave off eviction

The Thursday vibe at the sprawling Edward W. Brooke Courthouse on New Chardon Street in downtown Boston has a jittery, jagged edge to it. Thursday is trial day for eviction cases at Eastern Housing Court, where landlords and tenants from Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, and eight other cities and towns square off. The busy hallway outside Courtroom 10 looks like an anxiety fair, with attorneys from legal aid clinics at tables surrounded by tenants with the desperate air of people who know that they might soon find themselves homeless…If Stanley had worked from the beginning with an attorney, he likely would have been able to find a way to stay, or at least gained more time to move, says Zoe Cronin, managing attorney of the housing unit at Greater Boston Legal Services, which offers free legal help to low-income tenants.

Read more in The Boston Globe.

A mother loses her children in a fraught state system

Below is an excerpt from a February 17 letter published by the Boston Globe. Susan R. Elsen of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute writes about the lack of services available to families involved in DCF matters.

Last Sunday’s front-page story of a woman’s losing battle to keep her six children was more heartbreaking because it may not have had to end that way (“The call from DCF: ‘We have your children’ ”). The state Department of Children and Families’ mission is to strengthen struggling families so that children can stay safely at home, but we are left wondering whether Cynthia (the Globe omitted her last name to protect the identities of her children) got the services she needed.

She is a disabled mother who loved her children but repeatedly returned to a dangerous man who offered what seemed like love. She saw the required therapist, but did she have the intensive in-home support DCF can offer? Was she offered DCF’s homemaker services before what seemed like the removal of her children for a messy house? Did she get reasonable accommodations for disabled parents, required under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Many parents in Cynthia’s position don’t get needed services because the Commonwealth doesn’t adequately fund them. Although 87 percent of the children in DCF’s caseload are there to get services to remain or return home, only 8 percent of DCF’s services budget goes to keeping families together.

Read more at the Boston Globe.

De Novo is new name for CLSACC

Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) in Cambridge has changed its name to De Novo.

Founded in 1970 as Cambridgeport Problem Center and later Community Legal Services and Counseling Center, De Novo has grown from a small group of dedicated volunteers with a vision to serve low-income Cambridge residents to a larger community of staff, volunteers, community partners and donors supporting counseling and legal aid programs throughout Greater Boston and, for immigrant and refugee clients, statewide.

“Along with that growth came both opportunities and challenges,” including the organization’s name, said Mojdeh Rohani, De Novo’s executive director. “As we gained more exposure, Community Legal Services and Counseling Center or ‘classic’ as it was affectionately pronounced, did not truly capture our identity and mission.

“Our renaming is an opportunity for us to better communicate who we are, how our model works and more clearly convey the tremendous potential that legal assistance and counseling can have in the lives of our community members,” she said.

De Novo’s announcement stressed that it will continue to provide free legal assistance and affordable psychological counseling to low-income people, and the name change does not affect its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

Community Legal Aid represents resident of Whitinsville Retirement Home

Community Legal Aid lawyers have filed suit against the owners of Whitinsville Retirement Home for $1 million in U.S. District Court in Worcester, claiming they violated a 73-year-old man’s civil rights by illegally pressuring him to leave the home on the basis of disability and religion. Read more…

MLAC releases FY20 budget fact sheet