New York’s Low-Income Community to Receive Broader Range of Services From Merger of Greater Upstate Law Project and Public Interest Law Office of Rochester

  • 11/22/2004
  • Brennan Center E-lert
  • Source: New York > Rochester / Finger Lakes

Planning to provide a broader range of services to low-income people, the Greater Upstate Law Project (GULP) and the Public Interest Law Office of Rochester (PILOR) have merged into a single non-LSC funded legal services organization. Chief Executive Officer Anne Erickson says the new organization will address a variety of needs "from one-on-one legal services here in Rochester, to representation in Albany through our legislative and administrative advocacy, to litigation that has statewide impact." Erickson says that when Congress imposed funding restrictions on LSC grantees in 1996, GULP and PILOR separated from the LSC-funded Monroe County Legal Assistance Corporation so that they could engage in unrestricted direct services and legislative and administrative advocacy. The newly combined GULP/PILOR organization is in the process of identifying a new name and clarifying its mission and services. Chief Counsel Bryan Hetherington says that the integration of the organizations' services has already encouraged more collaboration between staff working on different issues, such as disability benefits and domestic violence, and has better harmonized direct services with policy advocacy. Hetherington notes for example that instead of helping tenants individually in challenging a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule that caused local housing authorities to incorrectly calculate tenants' income, GULP/PILOR lawyers brought a class action to "obtain refunds of overcharges for hundreds of tenants and convinced HUD to provide new instructions and training to protect tenants, not just in Ithaca, but across the state." Nora A. Jones, Merger of New York-Based Nonprofit Legal Groups Driven by Client Services, The Daily Record of Rochester (Rochester, NY), Nov. 10, 2004, page reference unavailable; also based on original reporting by Brennan Center staff.