#GiveJustice on this #GivingTuesday

 Today is #GivingTuesday –a global day dedicated to giving and building awareness for organizations that help people in need.

Read this story below from our client Roy for an example of how your gift to the Mississippi Center for Justice goes to fight for justice for Mississippians. 

Please let us count on you to help Mississippians like Roy. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution gift to the Mississippi Center for Justice today 

Roy Harness served three years in the Army and earned a reputation as a hard worker for Southern California Edison Power Company before a drug addiction landed him in prison.

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Harness was released, overcame his addiction, and returned to school. He has since graduated cum laude from Jackson State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work, and is on track to receive his master’s degree in 2019. His goal is to become a social worker with the Veterans’ Administration.

 “I hope I can inspire and empower other veterans who are suffering the way I suffered,” Harness says.

Having beaten his addiction, reconciled with his family, worked hard for his education, and dedicated his life to helping others, Harness is now focused on another goal. He would like to regain his right to vote.

“I did my time. I’m clean and sober and I’m an educated, productive citizen,” Harness says. “I want to be in a position to make a difference and that means being a part of the decision making process in our state.”

Under Mississippi law, those convicted of certain crimes are permanently banned from voting. The law is a part of the state’s 1890 constitution, which was drafted with the express purpose of denying African Americans the right to vote. 

 Harness is one of the plaintiffs in a case filed by MCJ challenging the 1890 provision. The ultimate goal is to restore the right to vote for thousands of Mississippians denied that right under this archaic, discriminatory law.

For Roy Harness, the opportunity to represent so many others in his situation through the lawsuit is one more form of redemption.

 “Who would have thought that a former crack head, homeless scrub would be in a master’s program, a voice for veterans, and an advocate for voting rights?” Harness says with a proud smile. “Sometimes I wonder, why did it take me so long to reach this point? But now, I see the value in these experiences and what they gave me to offer to others. And that feels good.”

 

Food pantries can't do it alone. SNAP is vital lifeline for Mississippians.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to celebrate and be grateful for all we have. Feeding the hungry and caring for the poor are central tenets of the Methodist faith and so many others. The holiday season reminds us of our obligation to our brothers and sisters to guarantee that those among us who are struggling to make ends meet can feed their families.

Wells United Methodist Church Food Pantry as well as so many others are doing crucial work to provide assistance to our neighbors and friends who are hungry. Each Tuesday a diverse group of Wells UMC volunteers attempt to do our very best to help others in need. So many organizations of faith embody the values of caring for poor, the marginalized, and the voiceless. The Wells UMC food pantry hopes to be doing just that. On most Tuesdays, the pantry will serve on average 80 brothers and sisters in need. This Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, the pantry served nearly 150 people who were able to bring extra food home to their families. We are grateful to have helped so many but unfortunately, that work is never done, and it is never more important than during the holiday season.

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However, food pantries can’t do this work alone. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, plays a critical role in helping 1 in 6 Mississippians put food on the table year-round, including families with children, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities (CBPP, 2017). According to Feeding America, SNAP provides 12 meals for every 1 meal that Feeding America’s network of food bank provides.

This holiday season, our elected leaders can help members of our community for years to come, far beyond these winter months, by protecting SNAP. Congress is currently working to finalize a farm bill, landmark legislation that is passed every five years and funds food assistance and other priorities. With many still struggling to get by, it’s crucial that lawmakers pass a farm bill that protects SNAP.

SNAP doesn’t just help fulfill our societal obligation to feed the hungry – it is also one of the best anti-poverty programs we have. In Mississippi alone, SNAP keeps 136,000 of our community members out of poverty, including 64,000 children (CBPP, 2017). For the good of our state, we need Congress to pass a final farm bill that supports and strengthens SNAP.

This Thanksgiving, we have the chance to ensure that the generosity and compassion we all demonstrate has a long-term impact. We hope that all Mississippians of faith and conscience will join us in urging leaders in Congress to pass a farm bill that protects and strengthens SNAP and reject any efforts to cut or make harmful changes to this crucial assistance for our friends and neighbors. The moral principles of our faith demand it.

 

Charles Araujo is the Volunteer Food Pantry Coordinator for Wells UMC.

Kathryn Rehner is a Policy Associate with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

Medical-Legal Partnerships are a Roadmap to a Healthier Mississippi

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The Mississippi Center for Justice is celebrating the 5thyear of its medical-legal partnership in collaboration with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation.  We have witnessed the positive impact this partnership has made by providing a holistic approach to healthcare.  We have been the voice of countless individuals seeking legal assistance to improve their health outcomes and are committed to reducing the legal barriers that negatively impact an individual’s health.  

From lack of transportation to rising medical costs, our state’s vulnerable population is faced with many barriers.  Fortunately, access to holistic healthcare does not have to be an added hurdle.  Through the establishment of medical-legal partnerships, a doctor can confidently treat the asthma patient knowing the presence of mold in the patient’s apartment will be addressed by an attorney.  A patient may report improved mental health after consulting an attorney about his/her financially-induced stress as a result of being denied Social Security benefits. The opportunities are endless. Medical-legal partnerships epitomize the true concept of holistic healthcare and are the roadmaps to a healthier Mississippi. 

 

Alecia Reed-Owens is a Staff Attorney in the Health Law Division of the Mississippi Center for Justice. 

A Nod to National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day is observed on June 27th. This year’s theme is “Doing it My Way, Testing for HIV”.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV today, but 1 in 7 of them DO NOTknow it. Unfortunately, these numbers are not surprising when viewed with the significant role stigma plays in driving an individual’s decision to get tested or not. As we celebrate National HIV Testing Day, take a look at some the ways HIV testing is crucial to you and our community:

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  • Early HIV detection is beneficial because the sooner an individual starts treatment, the less likely he or she will get sick because of opportunistic infections.
  • An individual who does not know his or her status is more likely to transmit the virus than an individual who knows.
  • Knowing your status gives you the ultimate control of your healthcare so that you can adequately advocate for yourself.
  • May encourage someone else in your family or the community to get tested.
  • Send the message that HIV stigma does not win!

As the Mississippi Center for Justice continues to fight for the rights of individuals living with HIV, we encourage you to get tested to know your status.  To find a testing center near you, click here

Alecia Reed-Owens is a Staff Attorney in the Health Law Division of the Mississippi Center for Justice.

 

 

Let's Get all the Facts, FIRST!

MCJ’s Education Campaign recently represented an autistic child who wore his uncle’s jacket to school.  

Unbeknown to him it had some .22 caliber bullets in the pocket, but no gun.  When a bullet fell out of the jacket’s pocket, the school  immediately called law enforcement, referred him to Youth Court for “disturbing a public school session,” and suspended him.  

Despite the fact he was SPED student no manifestation determination was done as required by federal law, nor was any there any attempt to comply with the specific state statute governing disruptive students Miss. Code 37-11-18.1 which requires a behavioral modification plan and psychological evaluation.  

The Court granted our Motion to Dismiss holding that the general Disturbing Public School Sessions or Meetings Miss. Code 37-11-23 was not applicable to the event, and that the school should have followed the IDEA  (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) law and state statute specifically directed at disruptive students.

The knee-jerk referral of students to the criminal justice system without regard to the facts of the case or their protection under state and federal law is what creates the notorious “schoolhouse to jailhouse” pipeline.  

If you have a child you think was inappropriately referred to law enforcement, MCJ would be happy to review the your case to see if his or her rights were violated. Contact us here

"I didn't really understand America until I understood Mississippi"

When we attend out-of-state gatherings, it’s deeply touching to learn the many ways that our guests and supporters care about the lives of Mississippians, and how this interest intersects with their own lives and values. 

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In late April, we were honored to be hosted by Aviva Futorian for an update with our supporters in Chicago.  Her participation in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer spurred Aviva to champion the Hill Country Project, and capture the oral histories of civil rights workers in Benton County. But she also values the Mississippi Center for Justice as a home-grown force for change across the state and she recently joined us for our Great Mississippi Road Trip.

Among those who attended Aviva’s gathering were philanthropists Lucy and Peter Ascoli. Peter’s grandfather, Julius Rosenwald, formed a powerful education partnership between Jewish and African American communities in the Deep South and the Ascolis have continued a strong commitment to social justice philanthropy.  John Riley and his wife Maryellen also drove in, after spending months in John’s hometown, Memphis, paying tribute to his brother, former MCJ board member George Riley, with a series of exhibits, performances, and convenings tied to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We also were delighted to see former board member Doressia Hutton and Bonnie Allen, now the executive director of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, who previously worked for MCJ as it grew by leaps and bounds. 

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While in Chicago, I spent an afternoon with Wheeler Parker driving across the south and west side of Chicago to better understand the communities in which he grew up with his cousin Emmett Till. Schools, civic centers, and other landmarks bore Emmett’s name and his memory remained strong among those who knew him. MCJ has been fortunate to have Wheeler and his wife Marvel join us for our Delta Road Trips for many years as Wheeler brought to life that pivotal encounter at Bryant Grocery that sparked the modern civil rights movement.  On the day before our Potomac reception, we met with pro bono counsel at Latham and Watkins to recruit a team to advocate on behalf of the National Park Service feasibility study of Bryant Grocery as a national historic asset.

The next week in Washington, D.C., an enthusiastic crowd of over two hundred gathered to pay tribute to Dr. Joyce Ladner and Robert Raben. Joyce launched a long distance run for civil rights in her teens from Palmer’s Crossing, Mississippi, and took part in or helped to organize actions stretching from the Mississippi backwoods to the March on Washington and beyond. Please spend the time to see Joyce reflect the dramatic first moment when she saw a young Marian Wright Edelman running down a street in search of a payphone in Greenwood, Mississippi. Robert Raben, a Miami native, started as a law clerk at the Mississippi Supreme Court and rose to prominence at the Department of Justice under President Clinton. Robert’s vivid account of how his life in the law became entwined with Mississippi helps to explain how he became so intensely attached to the cause of justice in our state.

Our Potomac gathering is filled with too many friends and supporters to single out individuals, but you can get a sense of the enthusiasm and breadth of the group by looking through our Flickr photostream. We saw so many allies who helped to launch and sustain MCJ over the past 15 years with their time and financial support. I was personally touched by how many attended who came to Mississippi’s aid after Hurricane Katrina and have remained invested in the mission of justice that we pursue. Some of these volunteers were housed in our homes in the immediate aftermath of the storm, when housing was impossible to find. They now have Mississippi family for life.

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Before the reception, several of us visited the National Museum of African American History. It was a humbling experience to work our way through the crowded exhibits tracing the evolution from slavery to emancipation to Jim Crow to Civil Rights. 

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Last week, supporter David Freudenthal, head of government relations at Carnegie Hall, hosted a group of about 30 guests for a delightful evening at his Central Park South apartment in New York City. This was David’s second reception to help MCJ increase awareness of and raise money for our work, for which we are enormously grateful. His career in public service and government relations has nurtured his concern for the problems that plague our society and the ways to ameliorate them.  Our impact litigation project leader Rob McDuff and I brought our friends up to date on our work and took questions. Joanne Edgar, a supremely gifted writer and co-founder of MS magazine who went to college in Mississippi in the 1960s, said, “Tell them about the Road Trip.” I asked writer and photographer Eric Etheridge, to recount the day when Hank Thomas, a Freedom Rider, joined us to return to Parchman prison for a tour of the maximum security building where he and other young activists were held for weeks as they refused to make bail.  Eric has a new edition of his incredible book on the Freedom Riders, Breach of Peace, coming out later this year. Hank’s own account is absolutely riveting and can be found here

What so many of these people share in common is a moment in their lives where they responded to the call for justice in their own way using what was within their power.  Sometimes it is through organizing or civil disobedience, sometimes it is litigation, and sometimes, like our friend Emilie Miller who appealed for volunteers at the end of this event, it is simply stepping in with a spirit of service. Emilie said, “A lot of people asked me "Why should I care about Mississippi? What does Mississippi have to do with me? But after going there I realized-- I didn't really understand America until I understood Mississippi..."

The rewards are great and lifelong, as so many have told us. We hope you will agree. 

To learn more about how to volunteer, go to this link.

 

CMS Is Taking a Closer Look at Work Requirement Waivers

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The Mississippi Division of Medicaid asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for permission to impose a work requirement on two mandatory categories of Medicaid beneficiaries: parents and caretaker relatives who have incomes below 27 percent of the poverty line, and parents and caretaker relatives who qualify for Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA), because their income rose above 27 percent of the poverty line due to employment or increased earnings. This will essentially take Medicaid coverage away from low-income parents unless they work 20 hours a week.

Hold up Mississippi--not so fast! Recently, CMS directed states that want to implement work requirements to come up with a plan for people at risk of losing coverage. While CMS approved work requirement waivers in Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana, it appears that non-Medicaid expansion states are being looked at through a different level of scrutiny. CMS deserves applause for taking a closer look at states that didn’t expand Medicaid to determine how a work requirement would adversely affect Mississippians.

Mississippi’s request to apply a work requirement to the most vulnerable Medicaid beneficiaries is counterproductive, costly and will likely result in thousands of very poor parents becoming uninsured. The state needs to figure this out completely before risking the health and well-being of its most needy and vulnerable citizens.

 

Linda Dixon Rigsby is the Health Law Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice.

The Great Racial Wealth Divide

Division has always been a common theme throughout American society.  The existence of the “haves” and the “have nots” is a reality.   The clearest example of this division is how wealth is unequally divided in this county.  According to Wikipedia, the richest 1% hold about 38% of all privately held wealth in the United States while the bottom 90% held 73% of all debt.  The current and growing racial wealth divide did not happen by mistake.  Historical wealth building policies, by design, specifically prevented households of color from participating in wealth building. 

Drivers of the racial wealth divide include: (1) lower homeownership rates and home values, (2) greater rates of unemployment, (3) income inequality, (4) lower higher education degree attainment, (5) limited ability to weather a financial emergency and (6) increased exposure to wealth-stripping products and services. 

Government policies have worked successfully to exclude households of color from building wealth and promoted the growth of the great racial wealth divide. Some of these policies included, housing discrimination through the practice of “redlining”, which shut out households of color from the opportunity to purchase and invest in the largest driver of wealth in this country: a home.  Below is a timeline of these government policies:

• 1935: The exclusion of farmworkers and domestic workers—who were predominately        people of color—from coverage under the Social Security Act of 1935.

• 1938: The exclusion of a number of tip-based professions predominantly held by Black workers— such as servers, shoe shiners, domestic workers and Pullman porters—from the first minimum wage protections enacted as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. 

 • 1944: Biased distribution of G.I. Bill benefits by officials within the Department of Veterans Affairs, which resulted in an unequal distribution of benefits—such as low-cost home mortgages and tuition assistance—for service members of color.

Information related to the racial wealth divide and efforts to address its growth are abundant. For those interested in more information on this topic, prosperitynow.org and inequality.org are excellent starting points.  

Charles O. Lee is the Consumer Protection Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice. 

*Image credit: Facebook: Race Wealth Divide*

 

Inspiring the Next Generation of Public Interest Leaders

Every spring since 2006 our organization has been energized by the arrival of law students from across the country eager to volunteer their time and talents to our clients. We have hosted  groups of students and faculty big and small from law schools of all sizes and reputations. The Student Hurricane Network launched this relationship in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but the compelling desire for service learning has continued well after the last storm victim’s file was closed. Students have participated in direct service legal clinics, performed research on the full spectrum of civil legal needs, and supported community mobilization and activisim. Each student’s work has moved us further toward our goal of bringing social justice to Mississippi.

 Our organization thanks the more than 2,500 law students and faculty who have volunteered to serve alongside us in Biloxi, Jackson, and Indianola. We pay tribute to these students with group photographs of law students who strengthened our legal responses to Hurricane Katrina, the BP Oil spill, and the chronic problems of poverty and inequality.

 On Monday mornings each March we welcome students into our offices ready to work but also full of questions about our organization, about public interest law,  and about the role of law in ensuring equal opportunity for all. Over time we put together presentations to respond to some of these questions and help them appreciate the stubborn challenges Mississippians face to achieve racial and economic justice. Here is a recent presentation.

 

To learn more about how to participate in service learning at Mississippi Center for Justice, see our volunteer page on our website. Thank you. 

Reilly Morse is the President/CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice.

KNOWING OUR HIV STATUS IS OUR GREATEST FIGHT

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February 7, 2018 was National Black HIV Awareness Day.  This year’s theme was “Stay the Course, the Fight is Not Over.”  Our greatest fight yet is stressing the importance of individuals getting tested to know their HIV status.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and those with risk factors get tested more frequently.  However, the echoes against knowing one’s HIV status continue to serve as major hurdles.

            These echoes of fear, denial and misinformation are deeply rooted in stigma and threaten the goal of staying the course.  In response to these echoes, we must continue to educate and advocate to reduce the stigma.  When individuals know their status, it gives them the power and freedom to wholly advocate for themselves, take charge of their health, and release the chains of fear.  WE MUST STAY THE COURSE, THE FIGHT IS NOT OVER.

 

 

Alecia Reed-Owens is Health Law Staff Attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

EDUCATION NOTES from our Campaign Director Jeremy Eisler

Recently, MCJ was approached by the mother of a legally blind child.  The child’s doctor had told her he needed a vision evaluation, and would probably require special educational services.  When the Mom told the doctor she could not afford to pay for an evaluation he said “You should ask your school district, they should pay for it.”

The Mom asked her district. The district told her they didn’t think the child needed an evaluation, and that they had no money to pay for one in any event,  or to pay for special services.  They did not tell her she had the right to contest their decision.

The child’s doctor was right!  The district has an obligation under the I.D.E.A.  (Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) to  identify, evaluate, and assist children with disabilities.  This is called their “Child Find” obligation. We look forward to assisting this child and helping him obtain the assistance to which he is clearly entitled.

Parents who do not agree with district’s decision not to provide their child special education services have the right to file either a state complaint, or a due process complaint.  They also have the right to request an “Independent Evaluation” at the district’s expense.  If you are having problems getting your district to assist your child with a disability, please contact us here at MCJ.

 

Jeremy Eisler is the Educational Opportunities Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice.

MCJ Provides Legal Support to Local Affordable Housing Initiatives

Not very long ago, the shortage of affordable rental housing was only a concern of those living in the dense population centers of the East and West Coasts.

Unfortunately, rising rents and declining household incomes are now crippling low and moderate- income renters here in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, the number of vacant properties within the City of Jackson is on the rise, with current estimates exceeding 15,000 units. These vacant properties generate no property taxes, attract unlawful and unsafe activities, and frequently become fire hazards.

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Thanks to a number of local advocates with the vision to see the “win-win” opportunity, and the support of state and municipal leaders, efforts are now underway to re-purpose blighted and abandoned properties into beneficial affordable housing stock.

In 2018, with the support of the MS Bar Foundation, The Mississippi Center for Justice will begin providing much needed free legal services and policy advocacy, as well as education and outreach, in order to support these innovative community revitalization efforts.

 

John Jopling is the Housing Law Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice.

DATA BREACHES AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

 

            The Equifax data breach that occurred earlier this month is said to have affected 143 million U.S. customers which is about 44% of the population. A data breach is an incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data has potentially been viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so. Data breaches may involve personal health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets or intellectual property.

 

            While data breaches are becoming more common, consumers should not treat the breaches as harmless.  The opposite is true.  The impact of these data breaches remains serious business for every U.S. consumer.  The hackers who breached Equifax gained access to full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.  The information that was stolen is exactly what we as consumers use to open bank accounts and credit accounts.  This is the same type of information criminals will use to impersonate consumers to open bank accounts and other credit accounts.

 

            Appropriate steps should be taken by every consumer to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft as a result of any data breach.   First, you should determine if you have been impacted by the Equifax 2017 breach.  You can check to see if your personal information is potentially impacted here: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/. In addition, Equifax is offering complimentary credit file monitoring and identity theft protection through TrustedID Premier.  This is available for those who were impacted and even for those who were not.  You will find more information about this service at the same link provided above. 

 

                  Please understand that the damage from a data breach such as Equifax may not be seen for many years.  Checking your bank statements and credit card statements for accuracy should become a habit.  Finally, you should review the CFPB’s September 9, 2017 article titled, Identity theft protection following the Equifax data breach.  It contains important information and can be found here:  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/identity-theft-protection-following-equifax-data-breach/

The Crippling Effect of HIV Stigma on Legal Rights

The stigma of HIV has robbed countless individuals the freedom to exercise their legal rights. Perhaps more devastating, the stigma surrounding HIV has prevented individuals living with HIV from knowing the legal protections afforded to them after experiencing discriminatory conduct.  In our great country, we often hear that justice is blind but this saying does not ring true for many of the individuals I have the pleasure to serve.  Unfortunately, the internal and external stigmas that exist within the community have ripped off Lady Justice’s blindfold, or at least that is how it appears and feels for a community of people that have been ostracized and singled-out for more than thirty years.

Despite the stigma associated with HIV, it is imperative for individuals living with HIV and those who love individuals living with HIV to be aware of the legal protections and resources available to combat discriminatory behavior.   However, to properly address the crippling effect of HIV stigma, we must realize the entire burden does not fall upon individuals living with HIV or those directly impacted by HIV to know their legal rights.  The employer must properly uphold an individual’s rights as it relates to employment.  The medical provider must honor and respect the confidentiality of patients.  The landlord must uphold an individual’s rights as it relates to housing.  As a friend and neighbor, we must stand with our brothers and sisters living with HIV to alleviate the stigma that has permeated our communities for too long.

 

Alecia Reed-Owens is Health Law Staff Attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

Legal Representation Critical Component of Recovery for Disaster Victims

Watching, along with the rest of America, the catastrophic flooding in Houston, my heart goes out to the people of South Texas as they confront the immediate aftermath of this disaster. Every affected individual captured by the television camera has his/her own unique story. And yet, the cumulative images – women wading through chest-deep water with their infants hoisted toward the sky, families huddled together on freeway overpasses, the frail and elderly clinging to the sides of air-lift baskets – are all too reminiscent of those from Hurricane Katrina which struck the Gulf Coast twelve years ago this week.

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Sadly, Katrina taught us that disaster recovery is a long journey with a predictable sequence of serious challenges for affected individuals, particularly those with limited resources: the displacement of tens of thousands of people from their homes; the further displacement of thousands as a result of predatory evictions motivated by the opportunity for price-gouging; disputes over regulatory decisions regarding eligibility for early and much-needed disaster assistance; not-in-my-backyard zoning decisions regarding the placement of temporary housing; crooks and con men tricking the desperate and vulnerable into paying for housing repairs that will never be performed, and of course the inevitable effort by public officials to divert disaster funds to pet projects that benefit political supporters.

 These and other challenges can be successfully surmounted only when those affected by a natural disaster have access to legal advice and assistance. As a non-profit, public-interest law firm with pro bono support from regional and national law firms, the Mississippi Center for Justice was able to provide direct legal services to thousands of Katrina victims. Those who formulate the Hurricane Harvey disaster relief legislation would be well-advised to include support for the delivery of legal services to affected populations. It won’t change the length of their journey, but it will definitely lighten their load.

John Jopling is the Biloxi Managing Attorney/Housing Law Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice. 

A CALL TO ACTION: SUPPORT THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU

We need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  The CFPB is the agency standing up to the big Wall Street firms, banks and predatory lenders on behalf of individual consumers like you and me; however, the pro-consumer agency is constantly under attack for being successful for the reason it was created – to protect consumers. 

The CFPB was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to fight for consumers.  It is working to stop financial firms and predatory lenders from stealing our money, and it is working to shut down the debt traps and fraudulent schemes that separate hard-working Americans from their hard-earned paychecks.

The CFPB has delivered nearly $12 billion in relief to some 27 million Americans defrauded by lenders or banks over the last five years.  It is the agency that helped catch Wells Fargo fraudulently opening millions of accounts for customers without their knowledge or permission; the agency that released a rule to protect the rights of consumers to pursue class actions and is working on a rule to curb predatory lending; and it is the agency that has received close to 1.2 million consumer complaints and helped ensure those consumers received responses to their complaints.  (Submit your complaint by clicking here https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/)

There are bills in the Senate to eliminate the CFPB, take away its independence and roll back consumer protections.  Please contact your Senator Thad Cochran or Senator Roger Wicker by calling 888-789-9078 to tell him to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because the CFPB protects Mississippi consumers. 

Charles Lee is the Consumer Protection Division Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice.