On October 25, 2022, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous support of eleven volunteers, who were awarded with a 2022 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, for their remarkable commitment to our clients and for championing our team’s mission to advance access to justice. Congratulations!

Legal Clinic for the Homeless: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Pro Bono Volunteers

The Legal Clinic for the Homeless provides advice, advocacy and representation to residents of homeless shelters on a variety of matters related to public benefits, shelter placement, as well as other issues. It also engages in advocacy campaigns to achieve systemic change. 

Erin P. Kelly and Janine Tramontana were charged with the responsibility of launching a pro bono program at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY and came to the City Bar Justice Center (CBJC) in February 2021 eager to get their attorneys and staff involved in the Justice Center’s projects in their individual capacities. Within the past year, Janine, Erin, and FRBNY attorneys and staff have engaged in multiple projects across the Justice Center. Because of Janine’s and Erin’s leadership and commitment to pro bono, their attorneys and staff have assisted in writing and executing Wills and other life planning documents, hosted an in-person estate planning clinic for LGBTQ homeowners who are seniors and/or living with disabilities, engaged in review of voluminous records as well as research and writing for veterans’ cases, and presented webinars on frauds, scams, and financial literacy for those struggling with consumer debt. 

But Erin and Janine’s work and commitment do not stop there.  They became dedicated partners of the Legal Clinic for the Homeless. The pandemic and rising inflation have imposed deeply challenging burdens on all of us, but for families experiencing homelessness and those living on public assistance, the financial difficulties are enormous. As CBJC grappled with figuring out the best way to bring some financial relief to our struggling clients during these hard times, attorneys and staff at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) stepped up in their individual capacities to volunteer with the project. 

Janine, Erin, and 19 FRBNY volunteers helped the Legal Clinic for the Homeless launch the Cash Assistance Recoupment Project. The volunteer lawyers challenged, via New York State’s fair hearing process, New York City agency actions to recoup monies from clients’ minimal public assistance grants. The FRBNY volunteers represented 11 clients in 30 separate cases and forced the City to issue and restore a total of $8,115 for their clients, and delete $12,663 in pending recoupment actions! For families with an experience of homelessness, living on public assistance, and struggling during these hard times, FRBNY’s successful work has brought a huge amount of financial relief.                       

After learning about her pro bono lawyers’ success in settling her recoupment case, one of our client’s, a mother who describes herself as disabled and homebound, exclaimed, “Thank you so much! I am so happy… There are no words to describe how much I appreciate their hard work and dedication… I cannot thank you enough. My daughter is going to college and she really needs clothes, a computer, and I need to save to move. This is going to help us more than you can imagine. It is such a blessing.” 

We applaud Janine and Erin for their great work and for being shining examples! Congratulations!