In the News
April 13, 2019
End the energy supply scam now
Greater Boston Legal Services has filed a class-action lawsuit against SFE Energy Massachusetts (“SFE”) for allegedly using unfair and deceptive practices in their door-to-door sales to solicit and sign up Massachusetts families for their costly gas and electricity services. The suit alleges that SFE’s agents misrepresented themselves to potential customers as being associated with the customers’ then current electric and gas suppliers (such as Eversource and National Grid) and failed to properly disclose the costs and terms of their utility services in violation of public policy and Massachusetts regulations.
Please click here to read the Boston Globe article.
March 22, 2019
Protecting low-income tenants in the private rental market
"Each week, I meet with low-income Asian immigrants who come to our legal clinics in Chinatown to resolve legal issues. Legal issues with housing are among the most prevalent and pressing, particularly in light of widespread displacement and rising rent costs in immigrant neighborhoods including Chinatown, Quincy and Malden."
Please click here to read the Sampan article.
March 14, 2019
Deaths cited in settlement with nursing care facilities - Lowell Sun
“Attorney General Maura Healey and senior care advocates [announced] settlements with Beaumont and six nursing care facilities that include fines and quality improvement directives after a statewide investigation discovered failings that led to injuries, and patient deaths.
"The human toll that Synergy and other facilities imposed on their residents is unconscionable, as well as one their employees, and we are thankful for this resolution," said Wynn Gerhard, senior attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services.”
Please click here to read the Lowell Sun story.
March 13, 2019
Massachusetts House - again - votes to lift welfare family cap - MassLive
"The family cap is a failed policy that excludes a child based on when they’re born,” said Naomi Meyer, an attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services who has been advocating for lifting the cap. “Families really need to have all their children supported in order to be able to provide them with the things they need like diapers, clothing and (money) to do the laundry and take the bus and basic needs like that."
Please click here to read the MassLive.com story.
March 4, 2019
More families, elders have no place to call home - The Patriots Ledger
“Wynn Gerhard of Greater Boston Legal Services […] said her client load has exploded as local rent prices have soared. Many of her clients rely on Social Security or disability payments to get by, and those amounts don’t cover the cost of housing in the Quincy area, she said.
“It creates a real problem for people trying to stay in housing,” she said.”
Please click here to read the Patriots Ledger story.
March 2, 2019
Medford musician fights eviction from home of 70 years - Boston Globe
“The trouble began after Joe Lentino took a reverse mortgage in 2007 to get out from under his debt. Then he lost some gigs playing in jazz bands. And he started missing tax payments on the modest white house where he’s lived for about 70 years.
Now, the 80-year-old trombonist is embroiled in a legal nightmare, scrambling to get into senior housing before a Texas firm can foreclose on his mortgage.”
Please click here to read the Boston Globe story.
November 17, 2018
Boston schools agree to change policies on suspensions—Boston Globe
“'We need to solve this problem and not just remove kids from school,' said Elizabeth McIntyre, an attorney for Greater Boston Legal Services, which represented the parents as part of its School to Prison Pipeline Intervention Project…Parents who filed the lawsuit said Friday they hoped the agreement will result in students missing fewer days of classes and that procedures will be followed, including providing students and families their due-process rights for hearings when a suspension is recommended along with necessary information."
Please click here to read the Boston Globe story.
November 16, 2018
Proposed public charge rule causes fear incommunity, even though nothing has changed—Sampan
“I met Dong at the legal clinic that I staff each Tuesday morning at South Cove Community Health Center. Working in the Asian Outreach Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services, I interact with low-income Asian immigrants on a daily basis. The newest issue raising fear and confusion in the Asian American community is the Trump administration’s proposal of a “public charge” regulation.
Please click here to read GBLS Paralegal Li Fan’s op-ed in Sampan.
Please click here to read GBLS’ statement regarding the public charge proposed rules.
November 16, 2018
GBLS clients and Boston Public Schools reach settlement to end unlawful suspensions of youngest students and focus on alternatives for all students—Sampan, WBUR
GBLS clients and Boston Public Schools Interim Superintendent Laura Perille have signed a settlement agreement wherein BPS agrees to: 1) no longer suspend kindergartners, first graders, or second graders; 2) to suspend third, fourth, and fifth graders only for very serious offenses; and 3) agrees to create, in collaboration with community groups, professional development trainings designed to increase the use of non-exclusionary, alternative discipline. Please click here to read GBLS’ press release.
October 31, 2018
Workers sue Happy Lamb Hot Pot for hundreds of thousands in pervasive wage theft — Sampan
“Happy Lamb Hot Pot ignored wage and hour laws and even after workers complained, many violations continued,” said Ting Chiu, Staff Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services. “These workers deserve the wages and tips that they have earned.”
Please click here to read the Sampan story.
October 29, 2018
Increases in public funding to legal aid providers protects tenants — Wicked Local Cambridge
Cambridge City Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui: “Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services (CASLS), a division of Greater Boston Legal Services, provides free legal services to low-income families and individuals...As a legal aid attorney myself, I understand how critical these services are to helping people stay in their homes, and why they’re a necessary component of our city’s housing plan.”
Please click here to read Councilor Siddiqui’s column in Wicked Local Cambridge.
April 25, 2018
Boston City Councilor wants to help residents repay back taxes — Metro US
"Today, too many elderly and low-income Boston residents face increasing property tax bills that they cannot afford," said GBLS Senior Attorney Todd Kaplan. "By offering these residents more flexible payment plans to pay their back taxes with the opportunity to reduce accrued interest, we can help homeowners get current on their taxes and take real steps to ensuring Boston is a city for people of all ages and income levels."
Please click here to read the Metro US story.
March 29, 2018
As ICE deports higher numbers of Asian immigrants, a Dorchester family is left without a mother — Spare Change News
“More people are being told to get their travel documents in order before heading to their ICE check-ins, particularly those in the Southeast Asian community,“ said GBLS Senior Attorney Bethany Li. “It’s hard to generalize and there’s no need to create lots of fear but people should go talk to a lawyer [if called in early]. This is true for immigrants generally, that everyone and anyone is a target and that’s certainly a widening of the policies previously used to consider who would be targeted for deportation. And Southeast Asians haven’t been targeted in this way maybe ever … it’s only last fall that people started questioning whether they would be able to continue to live here.”
Please click here to read the Spare Change News story.
March 29, 2018
Somerville aldermen hope to encourage affordability through right of first refusal — Tufts Daily
Trying to find affordable housing is one of the most difficult issues every Boston-area resident faces — and it's even more challenging if you want to buy a home. Somerville is trying to do something about it, as GBLS Senior Attorney Ellen Shachter explains.
Please click here to read the Tufts Daily story.
March 23, 2018
Repeal Sought for Child Welfare Cap — Boston Neighborhood Network News
GBLS Senior Attorney Naomi Meyer and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Senior Staff Attorney Deborah Harris explain the need to lift the child welfare cap in Massachusetts.
Please click here to watch Boston Neighborhood Network News interview by host Chris Lovett.
March 16, 2018
Welfare cap, disability services are focus of final Massachusetts state budget hearing — MassLive
"$100...means the difference between whether a mom can afford enough diapers to keep her baby clean and healthy, and the difference between whether she can afford bus fare to go to the supermarket and buy what her kids need," said Naomi Meyer, GBLS Senior Attorney, on the importance of lifting the financial assistance cap on struggling families.
Please click here to read the MassLive story<
March 15, 2018
Advocates Ask SJC to Block Immigration Arrests at Mass. Courthouses — WBUR
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are targeting courthouses in the state and arresting undocumented immigrants who are showing up for scheduled court dates. [GBLS, the Committee for Public Counsel Services Immigration Impact Unit, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice] filed a petition in Supreme Judicial Court seeking an injunction against such arrests, saying the fear of deportation is preventing some immigrants who are in the country without documentation from showing up for court business.”
Please click here to read the WBUR story
February 5, 2018
Ministering To Puerto Rico's Pain: Civil Legal Aid Lawyers Assisting Those Seeking Mass. Refuge — WGBH
GBLS Executive Director Jacquelynne Bowman and Mass. Legal Assistance Corporation Executive Director Lonnie Powers: “Five months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the situation on the island remains dire, and states throughout the nation have welcomed Puerto Rican refugees — who are U.S. citizens — to the mainland.” “…These new residents will also require civil legal assistance. Civil legal aid attorneys have long played a critical role in helping people recover from natural disasters.”
Please click here to read the WGBH opinion piece.
January 25, 2018
Gov. Charlie Baker's budget would let welfare recipients keep more benefits while working — MassLive
“Advocates for poor people say they have some concerns about what will happen to people after those six months are up. Naomi Meyer, a senior attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, said if for example someone is working part time and their pay does not increase in the first six months,‘they're still going to need that supplemental bit of benefits for awhile longer.’
Please click here to read the MassLive story.
December 3, 2017
Protect low-wage workers from sexual harassment — Boston Globe
Evidence suggests sexual harassment of low-wage workers is pervasive, and they often feel unable to speak out. "The barriers to justice for these women are considerable. Many don’t speak English. Some fear being reported to immigration authorities if they complain. And the risk of job loss is particularly acute for the poor." GBLS Senior Attorney Audrey Richardson said, “[GBLS] could put a meaningful sexual harassment program in place with just a $300,000 annual budget — a tiny fraction of the state’s $40 billion in annual spending.”
Please click here to read the Boston Globe editorial.
December 2, 2017
Felony or misdemeanor? Massachusetts may change larceny laws — boston.com
"The $250 threshold has been in effect in Massachusetts since 1987 and is low enough to make the theft of a winter coat, video game console or a pair of pricier sunglasses a felony, leaving a mark on a person’s record that could hinder employment options for years.
'With young people, they grow up poor and they make mistakes,' said Pauline Quirion, director of the CORI and Re-entry Project for Greater Boston Legal Services, and an advocate for the change."
Please click here to read the boston.com story.
November 29, 2017
How civil legal aid assists older adults — Huffington Post
“In Massachusetts and around the country, many legal services organizations have units dedicated exclusively to addressing the legal needs of the elder population. For example, Greater Boston Legal Services’ (GBLS) Elder Abuse Prevention Project, in addition to providing direct services to elder clients, provides training for care providers, community members, and seniors to raise public awareness of the forms such abuse can take. GBLS is playing a role in assisting the increasing number of elders who are falling victim to abuse by opioid addicted family members, a side effect largely overlooked until recently."
Please click here to read the opinion piece in the Huffington Post.
October 18, 2017
State legislators produce sweeping criminal justice reform bill — Bay State Banner
The goal of the Massachusetts Senate's much-needed criminal justice reform bill is to reduce unnecessary incarceration. “No one of us could imagine being unemployed for ten years,” said Pauline Quirion, director of GBLS' CORI and Re-entry Project. “Studies show employers will not hire you with a CORI even for a dismissed case.”
Please click here to read the Bay State Banner article.
October 12, 2017
Mandatory sentences targeted in plan to change drug laws — Gloucester Times
Proposed criminal justice reforms by the Massachusetts legislature would help individuals with criminal records to get their lives back on track as well as keep more people out of prison. GBLS Lead Attorney Pauline Quirion, director of GBLS’ CORI and Re-Entry Project, said reducing the years it takes to seal a criminal record and lowering probation fees will help. "We have a system that supposed to allow people to move forward by sealing their cases, but the waits are simply too long," she said. "If you have that mark on your record, you can't get a job or housing, so you're not going to be able to move forward."
Please click here to read the Gloucester Times article.
September 25, 2017
Proposed law aims to protect low income residents from burdensome debt collection — WWLP-22 News
Dozens of people came to the State House for the Committee on Financial Services' public hearing on bills dealing with banking and debt settlement.
Please click here to read the WWLP-22 News story and listen to GBLS Consumer Rights Unit fellow attorney Matthew Brooks testifying in support of the bill.