- 17 Counties within the Western District of New York
Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $800,000)
The Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), along with partners the International Institute of Buffalo (IIB), Willow Domestic Violence Center (Willow), and Center for Youth (CFY), seek support in expanding and improving specialized legal services for 100 legal matters for survivors of all forms of human trafficking in the seventeen counties making up the Western District of New York (WDNY), New York. Between 2019 and 2020, VLP provided immigration legal services to 41 survivors of trafficking through a sub-award on the WDNY Enhanced Collaborative Model Taskforce grant award. Nearly all clients represented by VLP were successful in obtaining immigration relief, which allowed them to move towards safety, stability, and self-sufficiency. Although project partners IIB, Willow, and CFY have identified substantial numbers of survivors requiring legal services other than immigration legal services, due to limited funding, VLP was unable provide such services in the past. These numbers indicate the need for an expanded civil legal services program for survivors in the WDNY.
Under this project, VLP proposes to: (1) provide expanded civil legal services, including full representation on immigration and other matters, to survivors of all forms of trafficking; (2) provide vacatur representation to survivors of trafficking for convictions related to having been trafficked; (4) provide brief consultations on civil legal matters to survivors of trafficking where full representation is not requested; and (5) collect data and participate in evaluation activities to determine if the program is meeting stated goals and objectives. VLP will continue the successful practices of close collaboration with social service providers for wrap-around services, offering low-barrier intake facilitated by case managers to allow clients access to services, and providing legal services using principles of trauma-informed care, thereby minimizing impediments to accessing legal services, and offering follow-up support services through project partner core case managers including transportation, substance use/mental health counseling, and medical services.