Community Economic Development Unit

Community Economic Development Unit

About the Community Economic Development Unit

The City Bar Justice Center’s (CBJC) Community Economic Development (CED) Unit consists of the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP), the Foreclosure Project and the Consumer Bankruptcy Project. Together, the projects are working towards addressing economic inequality in marginalized communities by providing clients with a range of free legal services.  The CED Unit assists clients at various points of economic uncertainty, whether it is applying for a bank loan to start a small business or understanding how bankruptcy may affect ones credit or help one to save their family home.  The legal assistance each project provides varies greatly, but their mission of revitalizing and stabilizing NYC communities is a common goal for the CED Unit, as well as for the larger CBJC. The CED Unit’s overall mission is to keep low-income communities intact through the promotion of community economic development and financial empowerment. Through our day to day services each project works towards achieving that goal and as a unit, we are working to strategize and implement new initiatives to encourage developmental growth and security for the NYC communities that are home to CBJC’s low-income clients.

As an integrated unit the projects work to assist clients in moving out of economic insecurity, while also providing meaningful pro bono work for transactional attorneys.

Get Involved: A Unique Volunteer Opportunity

The CED group has begun to develop new and interesting partnerships that not only enhance available resources for their clients, but also address overlapping issues that clients may be facing, while offering many new and meaningful pro bono opportunities for volunteers. Below is a brief description of the services each project in the CED Unit provides:

  • Consumer Bankruptcy Project (CBP): CBP provides high quality legal assistance to debt burdened low-income New Yorkers. The Project recruits, trains and mentors volunteer attorneys to advise consumers of their rights and responsibilities regarding outstanding debts. Where appropriate, volunteers prepare the forms and schedules necessary for a debtor to file a pro se Chapter 7 case and advise the debtor on the steps needed to successfully obtain a discharge. This Project allows clients who would otherwise be unable to file for bankruptcy, due to an inability to retain counsel, the opportunity to reorder their finances and obtain an economic fresh start.
  • Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project: NELP works in the community and collaborates with community based-organizations across New York City to assist low-income entrepreneurs in setting up or expanding their for-profit businesses. NELP provides free, quality legal assistance to entrepreneurs who may otherwise go without such assistance because of the traditionally high costs associated with legal services. Some of the legal issues addressed by the Project include matters concerning business entity formation, intellectual property protection, contract drafting and commercial lease reviews – matters which can be crucial to an entrepreneur just starting out and with limited resources. NELP recruits, trains and mentors volunteer attorneys to provide legal services to entrepreneurs at community based legal clinics and presentations as well as through direct representation.
  • Foreclosure Project: When the foreclosure crisis hit NYC in 2008, CBJC, together with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, rose to the challenge by forming the Lawyers’ Foreclosure Intervention Network (LFIN). LFIN eventually expanded into CBJC’s Foreclosure Prevention Project, and has been operating under that name since 2009. The Foreclosure Prevention Project provides free legal assistance to low-and moderate-income homeowners facing foreclosure, with the goal of keeping New Yorkers in their homes whenever possible. We assist our clients by negotiating workout arrangements with lenders, attending settlement conferences, as well as applying for reinstatement loans and grants through non-profit and government programs, such as the New York State Mortgage Assistance Program (NYS-MAP). Occasionally, where appropriate, our attorneys may represent homeowners in litigation.

To become a CED partner, please contact Akira Arroyo. To contact other members of the CED Unit, please visit our Contact page.


Financial Empowerment Hub

Visit the CED Unit’s Financial Empowerment Hub to stay informed on the CED’s latest initiatives, get access to free finance resources, and more.

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