Services WMLS Provides
Our housing unit helps tenants facing eviction, mainly from public and subsidized housing. We also accept a limited number of foreclosure cases involving homeowners and we have a specialized housing project that helps tenants in Hampden, Franklin and Hampshire Counties who appear in Housing Court without attorneys.
We handle an assortment of government benefits cases including TAFDC, Food Stamps, MassHealth, EAEDC, Veterans' Services and emergency shelter. These cases involve denials, terminations and reductions in benefits.
WMLS is committed to assisting victims of domestic violence to form a plan that will lead to long-term safety and to execute that plan. We assist victims of domestic violence with family law, housing, income, and financial planning matters. We also accept a limited number of family law cases involving divorce, paternity, custody, visitation and child support where domestic violence is not an issue. We only accept non-domestic violence family law cases when kidnapping, child custody issues of the custodial parent or other serious issues are involved.
We provide various types of representation in employment law. This includes help for people who have been denied unemployment benefits or who are getting benefits but face an appeal by their former employer. Our employment unit also handles wage and hour issues, wrongful discharge problems related to the Family and Medical Leave Act and cases related to access to job training and education. We also have a small grant to provide legal assistance to migrant farmworkers.
WMLS offers assistance with SSI disability cases in Hampden and Berkshire Counties. We are only able to accept a small percentage of applicants who need help in this area because the demand for this service is far greater than our two person SSI Unit can handle. WMLS works closely with the Disability Law Center that provides legal help on SSI disability cases in Franklin and Hampshire Counties. WMLS also handles non-disability Social Security and SSI cases which involve eligibility or overpayment issues.
Our elder unit, in addition to the benefits, housing, family law and SSI disability services described, assists elders with matters involving their dignity and independence, such as guardianships, conservatorships, powers of attorney and health care proxies. We also have an attorney who is part of the statewide Medicare Advocacy Project that educates the public about Medicare law and assists clients who have been denied Medicare benefits. In addition to direct client services, WMLS provides community legal education to hundreds of service providers, community groups, private attorneys and low income individuals and families through consultations, workshops, clinics and informational materials.
Last year WMLS provided legal representation and assistance services to nearly 9,000 low-income people and their families in the four counties of western Massachusetts.
Types of Cases WMLS Handled from July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007
% OF TOTAL
Other Miscellaneous (Consumer, Individual Rights, Torts, Other)
Elder (*included in above cases)