NY1: New Office in Jamaica Offers Free Legal Help for Queens Residents Dealing with Money Woes
FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2017

The Legal Aid Society opened a new office in Queens to strengthen efforts assisting local residents with foreclosure, bankruptcy, consumer fraud and other economic/legal issues.

New Office in Jamaica Offers Free Legal Help for Queens Residents Dealing with Money Woes
By Matt McClure
May 24, 2017

Bella Karshigiyeva came to Queens from Uzbekistan 25 years ago. In 2012, the mother of five found herself with mounting credit card debt and facing a lawsuit by her landlord because she was behind on rent.

“I was in very big depression because of those credit cards,” she said.

She had no idea where to go for help, until she found the Legal Aid Society. The non-profit provides free legal services for low-income New Yorkers.

"I know many people with a low income,” Karshigiyeva said. “They need help, but they don't know how and where they're supposed to go.”

With the help of Legal Aid lawyers, Karshigiyeva was able to stop court action against her.

Now, the organization has opened a new office on Jamaica Avenue near 153rd Street with the goal of helping more Queens residents facing a big financial burden. It's called the Economic Justice Center.

“We've put under one roof services like consumer protection, foreclosure prevention, bankruptcy, immigration,” said Sateesh Nori, Attorney in Charge for the Legal Aid Society in Queens.

“Some of the most important occurrences in our life happen in a courtroom where we are in danger of losing our home, our apartment, or not getting the benefits that we're entitled to,” said City Council Member Rory Lancman, who chairs the Committee on Courts and Legal Services.

Lancman said an office focusing specifically on legal help for financial issues, is especially important in Queens, which he calls the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis.

“We have the highest number of foreclosures in the state,” he added. Many people in this part of Queens are in danger of losing their homes because of shady lending practices.”

“They're losing everything,” said Nori. “They're losing all their hard work and all the money they saved to put into a home only to have it taken away.”

Organizers hope this new center will change that.

The office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Income restrictions apply. For more information, go to legal-aid.org

This article originally appeared on NY1.