Tag Archive for: Greater Boston Legal Services

For some families, the right to shelter isn’t a right at all (Boston Globe)

Below is an excerpt from an article published by the Boston Globe on November 25, shedding light on the experiences of people navigating homelessness and Massachusetts’ oversaturated emergency shelter system. Greater Boston Legal Services’ Laura Massie is quoted. 


WOBURN — On the same day the state’s emergency shelters hit their capacity limit, a letter slid under Stacey’s door.

The hotel where she’d been living with her 12-year-old daughter and their two dogs since the end of the summer was finally kicking them out. Her savings had run out weeks ago. She owed the hotel $5,333.30.

“You have refused to check out and refused to pay,” the letter read. “YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED TO REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE … PREMISES IMMEDIATELY.”

Stacey panicked, threw up. She had nowhere to go, so she resolved to go nowhere. She already had been evicted twice in less than two years. What could she do but ride out a third removal, hoping to squeeze out every night of shelter before a court made it official?

“I know my actions right now are scummy,” she said one morning, sitting in the lobby as a hotel worker eyed her disapprovingly. “But I don’t like people thinking I’m a scumbag by nature.”

Two days later, a manager showed up at her door with a police officer. She hadn’t been at the hotel long enough to gain tenant rights. There would be no 30-day notice. Her dark-eyed, curly-haired daughter — a clever, watchful child — was in the room to see her mother dissolve again as the manager issued his edict: They had three days to get out.

Read more at the Boston Globe.

Innovative partnership ensures lawyer for women in crisis (Mass Lawyers Weekly)

Below is an excerpt from an article published by Mass Lawyers Weekly on November 10, highlighting the partnership between Greater Boston Legal Services and Women’s Lunch Place. Greater Boston Legal Services’ Nayab Ajaz is quoted. 


An innovative program staffed by Greater Boston Legal Services is ensuring that guests at a Boston women’s shelter have a lawyer they can call on in times of crisis.

Since February, GBLS attorney Nayab R. Ajaz has been on hand to help resolve the sometimes-complex legal issues facing clients at the Women’s Lunch Place. It’s work she loves but also finds “heartbreaking” at times.

“It’s sad to see how people have been failed by various systems or just haven’t been given the information that they needed,” Ajaz says. “But it’s also great being able to correct that as well — to give people the legal help that they need.”

In January, GBLS and the Women’s Lunch Place entered a contract under which Ajaz serves as the dedicated lawyer for the daytime shelter and advocacy center.

Read more at Mass Lawyers Weekly.

Staff Attorney, Consumer Rights – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) seeks to hire a staff attorney with 1 to 5 years of legal experience to work in the Consumer Rights Unit.

The attorney will represent low-income clients in a variety of consumer matters and will undertake major litigation that will strengthen consumers’ rights. Areas include: debt collection cases, including overseeing and participating in our Debt Collection Lawyer for the Day Program; credit repair; FDCPA cases; unfair and deceptive practices; foreclosure defense; mortgage and property scam cases; consumer scam cases; reverse mortgage and tax foreclosure issues; and student loan issues. Representation may include litigation in a variety of state courts as well as federal court and bankruptcy court, on both individual and systemic cases. Familiarity with debt collection, foreclosure, FDCPA, credit repair, bankruptcy, consumer issues and general litigation experience a plus. In addition to litigation, the attorney will assist in community education and outreach activities, and legislative and other advocacy efforts on behalf of clients.

Requirements: Admission to the Massachusetts Bar or comity. The preferred candidate will possess excellent analytical, writing, research and litigation skills; the ability to work both independently and with a team; ability to speak Spanish is preferred but not required; and have a demonstrated commitment to providing legal services to low-income clients. A minimum of 1 to 5 years of related experience is required for this position.

Salary is based on a union scale, which begins at $72,000 for an attorney with less than one year of experience. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, a student loan repayment assistance plan for eligible attorneys, and generous Paid Time Off. Candidates should submit letter of interest, resume and brief writing sample to the Human Resources Team via email at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: CRU-ATT when applying for this position. Deadline for application is November 17, 2023, or until the position is filled.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Fellow Attorney, Asian Outreach Center – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity/Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

GBLS seeks an attorney with 0-2 years of experience for a Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) Bart Gordon Fellowship with the Asian Outreach Center. The purpose of the Fellowship is to provide civil legal services to low-income communities who may have difficulty accessing the justice system due to linguistic, racial, cultural or disability barriers, and to encourage careers in legal services.

Using a community lawyering model, the Asian Outreach Center (AOC) provides bilingual and bicultural legal services and support for movement building in the Asian American community. AOC works in conjunction with community organizers to dismantle racially unjust systems, recognizing that the community and our clients are their own fiercest advocates. Our model enables us to respond to the day-to-day needs of the community and inspires our broader work against systemic inequality and oppression.

The Fellowship’s goal is to respond to the rise in anti-Asian violence by supporting impacted low-income Asian households in Boston, Quincy and Malden. The Fellow will advance this goal through direct legal representation, administrative advocacy, systemic advocacy, and intersectional coalition building. The Fellow will implement a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to support households who must navigate the civil or criminal legal systems after an incident. The Fellow will represent households on a range of legal issues that connect to the underlying impact of a hate or bias-based incident, including but not limited to employment rights, housing stability, immigrant rights, and access to health insurance and public benefits. The Fellow will also raise awareness and increase access to legal services by offering intakes, developing know-your-rights education, and improving language access to resources.

Qualifications: The ideal candidate for the position should have experience with outreach and community lawyering principles or be willing to learn to engage with community groups. The candidate should also possess a strong foundation in the history of greater Boston’s Asian American community or be willing to learn. Proficiency in Cantonese, Mandarin or Vietnamese is a plus but not required.

The Fellow will receive an annual salary based on GBLS’s union scale, which is $72,000 for an attorney with 0 years of experience. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, a student loan repayment assistance plan for eligible attorneys, and generous Paid Time Off leave. The Fellow will work in the GBLS Boston office with a hybrid remote work schedule permitted.

Priority will be given to 2023 law school graduates, however candidates who graduated in 2022 or 2021 will also be considered. Candidates must be eligible for admission to the Massachusetts Bar.

Candidates should submit a letter of interest, resume and brief writing sample to the Human Resources Team via email at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: AOC-FELLOW-ATT

when applying for this position. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled but applicants are encouraged to submit applications by November 30, 2023.

GBLS encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Proposed cap on shelters raises thorny issues (Boston Globe)

Below is an excerpt from an October 31 article in The Boston Globe about the overburdened Massachusetts state shelter system. Greater Boston Legal Services Senior Attorney Laura Massie is quoted. 


By Samantha J. Gross and Matt Stout, Globe Staff

As the state’s emergency shelter system inched toward its self-imposed capacity Monday, uncertainty pervaded the state’s plan to cap how many homeless and migrant families it’s sheltering, with homeless advocates urging the Healey administration to delay and a judge readying to hear a legal challenge to it.

The ballooning crisis — and the unprecedented steps Governor Maura Healey is taking to control it — has raised numerous questions, perhaps none more urgent than how the new limit could affect newly arrived immigrants and other homeless families with no other place to go.

State officials said they plan to begin pushing those seeking shelter to a waiting list once the system reaches 7,500 families, which they warn could happen “imminently.’’ As of Monday, there were 7,332 families in the system, half of whom were in state-subsidized hotels or motels.

“We encourage the Healey administration to put the brakes on the creation of a waiting list while additional details of how such a waiting list would work remain to be hashed out,’’ said Kelly Turley of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.

“We want to make sure the Legislature has time to provide the funding that’s needed to avoid a need for the waiting list,’’ she said.

The fate of homeless families is far from the only unknown. A Boston-based advocacy group is suing the state to halt the self-imposed limit on the number of families in the shelter system; a judge will hear their arguments at an emergency hearing Tuesday afternoon. Healey is also still seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from the state Legislature to keep the system operating amid a crisis that has no definitive end in sight.

Behind the scenes, the state has sketched out some of its plans for what Healey has called “a new phase to this challenge.’’

Officials intend to create another layer of screening for those applying for emergency shelter, in which health care providers will perform a “medical assessment’’ of families to determine who will be given priority for shelter, according to a copy of the presentation that officials provided to advocacy groups.

Families with infants under 9 months and pregnant women in their third trimester will be among those prioritized for shelter, while those with medication that needs to be refrigerated could also move up in line, according to Turley, who was among those briefed by state officials last week.

Those who are effectively screened out will then land on the new waiting list, though it’s unclear how long they could idle there.

Two family welcome centers in Allston and Quincy, which were created to connect newly arrived migrants with services, will now shift in part to serve those not placed in shelters, according to state officials. Those on the waiting list will also be directed to call the state’s 2-1-1 hot line, a 24-hour system that gives people information about food banks or other basic services.

Until recently, homeless families were guaranteed a roof over their heads under a decades-old law in Massachusetts, the only state in the country with a so-called right-to-shelter requirement. But now, state officials say they can no longer guarantee space for more than 7,500 families.

At the current pace, state officials predict that without changes, roughly 9,700 families could be in the system by January and nearly 13,500 by the end of the fiscal year in June, according to projections shared with advocacy groups.

State officials say they plan to work with families as shelter capacity is reached.

“We are committed to ensuring that families know about resources available to them,’’ said L. Scott Rice, the retired lieutenant general whom Healey recently tapped to lead the statewide response as emergency assistance director.

Even with some new details, it remains unclear what will happen to families for whom there is no room. The state said Monday that when a unit opens up for a family on the waitlist, they will be contacted by phone, email, or text.

But migrant and homeless families are often transient, and advocates fear they could be hard to reach.

Space is already at a premium in a region choked by high housing costs. For example, the Pine Street Inn, New England’s largest provider of homelessness services, expects to reach capacity as temperatures dip.

“We are not equipped or set up to accommodate families [or] children,’’ said Barbara Trevisan, a spokesperson.

There are other concerns. If families seeking shelter must now be seen by a physician — who under state law is required to report suspected child neglect — some advocates question whether that could open migrant families to a Department of Children and Families investigation at one of their most vulnerable points.

“A lot of families applying for shelter are already very afraid. They know they and their children are in a very vulnerable circumstance, and they have a lot of fear of triggering a child welfare investigation,’’ said Laura Massie, a senior attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services. “We are concerned it could really make parents too afraid to come forward and say they need help and support.’’

Read the full story here.

Housing Paralegal – GBLS

GBLS is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services seeks an individual for a Paralegal position in the Housing Unit.

The position involves advising and representing individuals and families referred by the City of Boston and works closely with Office of Housing Stability (OHS) of the Mayor’s Office of Housing. The position will also involve going to Court and assisting with Attorney for the Day in Housing Court as well as participating in housing clinics with OHS. This paralegal hired for this position must maintain a good working relationship with the Office of Housing Stability and the social service agencies that are vendors with OHS. The job will involve grant reporting, entering non-confidential information into Salesforce with the City of Boston, and maintaining daily contact with OHS staff and elected officials. The position will also involve extensive use of GBLS’s client database, Legal Server. This position will work closely with the Managing Attorney of the Housing Unit as well as all the attorneys and paralegals on the Eviction Defense Team within the Housing Unit. If funding for this position changes, the position may require doing other work in the Housing Unit or within GBLS.

Qualified candidates should be able to work quickly given that requests for assistance are received on an on-going emergency basis and may require swift turn-around. Candidate must be able to work cooperatively on a team and have good attention to detail. Applicants must be able to support families in crisis. Additionally, applicants should possess strong advocacy skills that include the ability to communicate effectively and persuasively both orally and in writing. Candidate must be able to engage with attorneys and state agencies to represent families in administrative hearings and informal negotiations.

Salary is based on a union scale. The salary range starts at $47,500 with additional compensation for increased years of experience. There is an additional payment of $950 annually for a second language ability if applicable. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, and generous paid time off (PTO) leave.

Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume and brief writing sample to the Human Resources team via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to the Job Code: HU-PARA when applying for this position. Deadline is September 30, 2023, or until position is filled.

GBLS encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Staff Attorney, Asian Outreach Center

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) seeks an attorney with 0 to 5 years of experience to join the Asian Outreach Center and support advocacy on behalf of the low-income Asian immigrant community.

Using a community lawyering model, AOC provides bilingual and bicultural legal services and support for movement building in the immigrant Asian American community. AOC works in conjunction with community organizers to dismantle racially unjust systems, recognizing that the community and our clients are their own fiercest advocates. Our model enables us to respond to the day-to-day needs of community and inspires our broader work against systemic inequality and oppression. Our major projects include stopping deportations in the Southeast Asian community, fighting against gentrification and displacement in low-income immigrant neighborhoods, educating nail salon workers about their rights, protecting the voting rights of limited English proficient speakers, supporting undocumented Asian immigrants, and advocating for language access.

This is a generalist attorney position, with a focus on the legal needs of Asian immigrants impacted by the immigration system. Cases and advocacy may include identifying and representing clients on immigration relief options, advising and defending individual immigrant rights, and ensuring access to critical benefit programs and services for undocumented immigrants and immigrants with prior criminal convictions. The goal of this advocacy is to advance equity and increase access to rights on behalf of low-income households regardless of their immigration status.

In close collaboration with our regional and national community partners, the attorney will engage in direct legal representation, policy work, administrative advocacy, and intersectional coalition building to respond to the legal needs of low-income Asian immigrants. The attorney will also support the team in a range of legal areas based on ongoing community need as our team seeks to develop deeper relationships with community partners and vulnerable populations in the Greater Boston area. The attorney will also organize legal clinics, engage in outreach and education, and foster new relationships with impacted individuals and community groups to monitor legal needs and trends.

Qualifications: Candidates should have 0-5 years of legal experience, and admission to the Massachusetts Bar or comity is required. Prior experience in immigration and/or administrative advocacy is preferred. The ideal candidate for the position should also have experience with outreach and community lawyering principles or be willing to learn to engage with community groups. The candidate should possess a strong familiarity or foundation in the history of greater Boston’s Asian American community, or be willing to learn. Flexibility to work some weekends or evenings as needed to accommodate client community and participate in community outreach. Proficiency in Cantonese, Mandarin or Vietnamese is a plus but not required.

The Attorney will receive an annual salary based on GBLS’s union scale, which is $72,000 for an attorney with less than 1 year of experience and $78,000 for an attorney with 5 years of experience. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, a student loan repayment assistance plan for eligible attorneys, and generous Paid Time Off leave. The attorney will work in the GBLS Boston office with a hybrid remote work schedule.

Candidates should submit a letter of interest, resume and brief writing sample to the Human Resources Team via email at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: AOC-ATT when applying for this position. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled but applicants are encouraged to submit applications by October 23, 2023.

GBLS encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Paralegal, Asian Outreach Center – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

GBLS is hiring a full-time paralegal to work in the Asian Outreach Center (AOC) and support advocacy in the Vietnamese American community of Greater Boston.

Using a community lawyering model, AOC provides bilingual and bicultural legal services and support for movement building in the low-income, immigrant Asian American community. AOC works in conjunction with community organizers to dismantle racially unjust systems, recognizing that the community and our clients are their own fiercest advocates. Our model enables us to respond to the day-to-day needs of community and inspires our broader work against systemic inequality and oppression. Our major projects include stopping deportations in the Southeast Asian community, fighting against gentrification and displacement in low-income immigrant neighborhoods, educating nail salon workers about their rights, protecting the voting rights of limited English proficient speakers, supporting undocumented Asian immigrants, and advocating for language access.

The paralegal will be a generalist and will assist in a range of substantive law areas. The paralegal will handle cases and advocacy through the lens of community lawyering. The paralegal will participate in community-based intake, conduct research to support client cases and advocacy projects, and represent individual clients in administrative proceedings. The paralegal will support and identify client community needs through outreach, community education, and collaboration with existing and new community grassroots partners.

Qualifications:

  • Strong familiarity or background in the history of Greater Boston’s Asian American community, and/or willingness to learn more about it;
  • Strong written and oral communication skills;
  • Experience in legal or other advocacy work, or demonstrated proficiency in relevant skills;
  • Ability to perform careful, detailed work;
  • Flexibility to work some weekends or evenings as needed to accommodate client community and participate in community outreach; and
  • Proficiency in Vietnamese is strongly preferred, but not required.

GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, and generous paid-time-off. The position is covered by the collective bargaining agreement between GBLS and the Staff Association, which governs salary and benefits. The salary range starts at $47,500 with additional compensation for increased years of experience. There is an additional $950 annually for second language ability if applicable.

Candidates should submit a letter of interest, resume, and writing sample to the Human Resources Team via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: AOC-PARA when applying for this position. The deadline for applications is October 23, 2023, or until the position is filled.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds.

State places homeless families in unstaffed sites, raising safety concerns (WBUR)

Below is an excerpt from an August 21 article published by WBUR expressing concern for homeless populations at unstaffed shelter sites throughout the state. Greater Boston Legal Services’ (GBLS) Senior Paralegal Adam Hoole is quoted.


More than 10% of the households in Massachusetts’ family shelter system are now in hotels and motels without the usual support staff and services. As of Sunday, 638 families were in these unstaffed units, raising concerns among advocacy groups about health and safety for those families.

The unstaffed units, which are meant to be temporary, are part of an effort to respond to increasing family homelessness. While the state does work to provide food or cooking facilities, many families in unstaffed units do not have access to translation, transportation and case management, among other services.

Adam Hoole, a senior paralegal at Greater Boston Legal Services, said he gets calls several times a week about problems at unstaffed shelter units.

“I had an organization call me about two weeks ago, and at that time, they were telling me about 10 families that had no access to food,” he said.

Read more at WBUR.

The state’s duty to shelter its residents (Boston Globe)

Below is a letter to the editor published on August 14 by the Boston Globe. Greater Boston Legal Services’ (GBLS) Senior Attorney Laurie Massie, and Acting Litigation Director Gary Klein co-authored the letter.


We write concerning the right-to-shelter law described in the Aug. 8 article on the Emergency Assistance shelter system for families with children experiencing homelessness (“Law guaranteeing shelter was promoted by Dukakis,” Page A1). We agree that the shelter system is in crisis, but it is wrong to blame homeless families, including immigrants with children, for generating that crisis.

In reality, the Commonwealth has allowed the shelter system to fall into disarray and has often failed to meet its commitments to the most vulnerable members of our society. Simply put, policy makers need to recognize that the pressures on the shelter system arise because of a chronic shortage of affordable housing (particularly for the lowest-income families), lack of attention to eviction prevention for low-income tenants, and failure to prioritize income supports and housing subsidies that would allow homeless families to transition more quickly into permanent housing.

Greater Boston Legal Services recently resolved a class action case with the Commonwealth (Garcia v. Department of Housing and Community Development) to address substantial existing flaws in the shelter system. The settlement represents a binding commitment to not scapegoat the victims of a long history of failed housing policy in Massachusetts but rather to improve existing services to make them function properly.

No one, especially homeless families, wants a system in which costly, long-term hotel stays substitute for safe and affordable housing. Instead, the Commonwealth must implement policies to prevent evictions in the first place, to increase the stock of meaningfully affordable housing, and to provide supports to help families move out of the shelter system and into safe, permanent housing as quickly as possible.

Laura Massie

Senior attorney, Housing Unit

Gary Klein

Acting litigation director

Greater Boston Legal Services

Boston