NYLAG’s General Legal Services Unit has joined with the UJAFederation of New York to provide free legal services to people finding themselves in financial crisis because of the current economic recession. UJA-Federation of New York’s Connect to Care program was recently launched and involves a collaborative effort from social service agencies that fall under the UJA umbrella to provide assistance in areas of need such as financial counseling and unemployment. As a participating member of UJA-Federation’s Connect to Care, NYLAG is providing financial and legal assistance in money management and budgeting, debt and credit counseling, mortgage refinancing and foreclosure prevention counseling.

The New York City Independent Budget Office estimates that the city will lose 270,000 jobs between 2008 and 2010. Nationwide, the poverty rate is expected to increase half a percent from 2007 levels by August 2009. Low-income New Yorkers and previously middle class citizens are experiencing extreme financial strains and face joblessness and homelessness.

Through UJA-Federation’s Connect to Care, UJA is funding and facilitating social and legal services throughout its vast network of agencies for those hardest hit by the recession. NYLAG, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, F·E·G·S., Sid Jacobson JCC, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Samuel Field Y, and JCC of Staten Island are working together to provide employment and career transition assistance, legal services, financial and debt counseling, and budget assistance at regional centers throughout the five boroughs and Westchester and Suffolk counties. Spiritual counseling services are also available to the Jewish community through this initiative. Regional centers have been established at the participating agencies, allowing clients to access services in a variety of places, whether it be near their home or place of employment.

NYLAG staff members working on UJA-Federation’s Connect to Care include attorneys, paralegals, and financial counselors. The financial counselors will be working both at NYLAG’s main office and on-site at participating agencies. NYLAG advocates will expand its outreach as well as facilitate workshops, using a newly developed curriculum, in an effort to comprehensively distribute services. The workshops will include basic budgeting, tips for saving money, and prioritizing expenses.

UJA-Federation of New York’s Connect to Care initiative is designed to comprehensively and proactively help individuals who may have never before worried about how to make ends meet, how to prioritize expenses or how to live within a budget, and who suddenly find themselves with a lack of assets and income.