Over the course of 2014, Ropes & Gray pro bono teams aided organizations and individuals requiring legal assistance to resolve issues related to or stemming from homelessness.Boston-based attorneys and staff provide legal assistance directly to homeless men and women through the Massachusetts Legal Clinic for the Homeless, a program administered by the Lawyers Clearinghouse. Last year, four clinics were organized at St. Francis House, New England’s largest day shelter, and at Pine Street Inn, a permanent housing shelter offering meals, job training and other services to more than 1,600 people daily. Through these clinics, firm attorneys and paralegals helped individuals with a range of legal issues, including those related to housing, Social Security benefits and record sealing – a practice which helps individuals pursuing employment opportunities avoid disqualification on the basis of offenses committed as a juvenile.
The firm also represented Pine Street Inn in several matters that will help the organization enhance its services. The Inn intends to repurpose and develop an existing building into approximately 30 units of transitory housing for the formerly homeless in Brookline, Mass. Real estate partners and associates assisted in negotiating the relationship with a tax credit investor for the project and negotiated contracts with architects and construction firms, while attorneys in the environmental practice group performed essential compliance and regulatory research supporting development efforts.
Ropes & Gray also helped Pine Street Inn in connection with the Walnut Avenue Apartments mixed-use development in Jamaica Plain, Mass., by negotiating a property management and tenant support services platform for the project.
Washington, D.C.-based associates helped the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless analyze the efficacy of laws and regulations enacted in various U.S. jurisdictions related to the preservation of affordable housing when property owners opt out of the project-based Section 8 rental assistance program. The associates leading this matter also drafted commentary on a bill proposed by former Mayor Vincent Gray that would amend the District of Columbia’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.
Two Boston-based associates serve as clerks for Massachusetts’ Homeless Empowerment Project, a non-profit organization that publishes Spare Change News, a semimonthly newspaper addressing issues of homelessness and sold primarily by homeless men and women.
For more information on the work performed by the firm on behalf of individuals affected by homelessness and organizations dedicated to combating it, review the firm’s pro bono report and newsletters here.
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