Northampton County Bar Association Contributes $60,000 to NPLS
At least 150 low-income individuals with civil legal needs will again get the help they need thanks to a $60,000 gift from the Northampton County Bar Association to North Penn Legal Services. 2017 marks the fifth consecutive year that the NCBA membership has demonstrated its belief in the importance of civil legal aid in Northampton County by funding a full time staff attorney at NPLS. The attorney funded by this major gift will focus on a wide variety of legal issues affecting low-income people. In fact, over a five-year period – 2013-2017, the Northampton County Bar Association has donated $297,500 to NPLS.
“The barrier of access to justice just got smaller thanks to the generosity of the Northampton County Bar Association,” said NPLS Executive Director Victoria A. Coyle. “In this environment, a decision to say 'yes' to legal aid is an affirmation of the work NPLS does on behalf of low-income people in our community.
When the community partners with NPLS, we can have a direct impact on people’s livelihood. One example is a recent client named Kenneth. Kenneth—a 49-year old disabled person residing in subsidized housing contacted NPLS for assistance because he believes a stain in the carpet of his housing unit was making him ill. During an initial conversation between Kenneth and a NPLS Staff Attorney, NPLS discovered that Kenneth uses a wheelchair and that his apartment was not wheelchair accessible. He did not want to move as he loved his apartment, despite having extreme difficulties maneuvering and utilizing certain areas. He was unaware that he could ask for reasonable modifications and the landlord would be responsible to pay for them (since the property is covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the landlord is responsible for all costs).
After discussing with Kenneth his specific needs, NPLS requested the following reasonable modifications on his behalf: (1) replacement of the stove to a unit with the knobs on the front as opposed to knobs on the back; (2) removal of the carpet throughout the apartment to be replaced with a linoleum flooring; (3) installation of a sidewalk from his back door to an existing sidewalk which connected to the parking lot to ensure a safe secondary exit for him and (4) installation of a roll-in shower. To date, the stove has been replaced, the carpet has been replaced with linoleum and the sidewalk has been installed. At this time, the installation of the roll-in shower is in process.
Kenneth was able to remain in his apartment with reasonable accommodations made to improve his overall health and well-being.