40 Years of Delivering Equal Justice Under the Law

Op-ed by Raun Rasmussen, executive director of Legal Services of New York City, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Legal Services Corporation.

Op-Ed (New York)

New York Law Journal
October 1, 2014
Read the full op-ed

Tags: Funding: Federal, Pro Bono

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services NYC (LSNYC)


Last year was a bad one for our client, Alex. He suffers from depression, along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he developed after serving in the Army. After several family members passed away early in the year, his mental health worsened to the point where he could no longer handle his affairs. Alex stopped paying his rent or responding to court papers, and found himself homeless after his landlord evicted him. He wound up institutionalized in a Veterans Hospital in Manhattan.

But all was not lost: Life started to improve for Alex after his VA counselor reached out to us to help him with his housing troubles. As legal services lawyers, we were in a position to help Alex navigate a situation that he thought was hopeless. As soon as we got the case, we appealed the eviction order, stopped the landlord from renting the apartment to another tenant, and helped Alex obtain a grant for back rent from the Human Resources Administration’s special Veterans Center.

Today, Alex is back in his home, back on track with his mental health treatment, and moving toward a better life.

Alex’s story is like those of hundreds of thousands of others across America: low-income individuals and families with heart-wrenching problems that can only be solved with legal assistance that they cannot afford.