Did you know that, although the Supreme Court has declared that defendants accused of a crime have a right to a public defender, this does not extend to individuals caught up in civil disputes? There are many reasons people reach out to Community Legal Services Inc. in Philadelphia. Not only can they provide quality advice and assistance, but they also can provide legal services to people who would otherwise be unable to afford it. What has CLS been up to lately? Here are three recent news stories regarding their organization.
1. Making the Safety Net More Visible
The NYTimes recently covered a story about how many of the country’s poor are unaware of the options and safety net available to them by the government. Gladys James, for example, is a 92 year old former seamstress that had been living on Social Security and a pension that totaled about $8,266 annually. Like many people living in poverty, Jones had no idea she was entitled to re enroll for food stamps, receive free home help, or discounted water bills. A movement called Shared Prosperity, led by Community Legal Services Philadelphia, intervened and helped her receive the assistance she was eligible for.
2. Requests for Welfare Denied
Pennsylvania now denies eight out of ten applications for welfare. Critics have said that the system stymies applicants by making a more difficult process. Many applicants were seeking TANF, which will pay out about $314 monthly for a low income mother and her child. Proponents point out that the clause that requires applying to three jobs before applying makes it difficult for mothers who rely on welfare aid to receive the transportation and childcare needed in order to go to interviews. Richard Weishaupt, who is a lawyer from Community Legal Services Directory, says that the majority of applicants are not even aware of the rule, or have trouble understanding its requirements.
3. Medicaid Enrollments Dropping
This past year, Pennsylvania dropped almost 10% of families, pregnant women, and children from Medicaid. Community legal services Directory filed a complaint with the federal Department of Health and Human Services about the disenrollments, and they threatened to sue the state as well. This led to an agreement that the state would send out over 100,000 letters to recipients who had been cut off because of a lack of documentation. Most other states, by contrast, saw a rise in Medicaid enrollments during the same period.