Nearly $165,000 in unclaimed funds to help provide critical service to the homeless and other marginalized New Yorkers
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, and The Bronx Defenders, all leading civil rights advocacy groups and law firms, announced that the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has approved their request to equally distribute nearly $165,000 in remaining class-action settlement funds among four high-quality and innovative nonprofits. The four organizations — Picture the Homeless, Ali Forney Center, Streetwise & Safe, and the Urban Justice Center Sex Workers Project — will each receive over $40,000 to continue providing critical services to the homeless and other underserved New Yorkers.
The $165,000 is the remaining unclaimed funds of a class-action settlement from 2012, which required New York City to pay $15 million to approximately 22,000 New Yorkers who were illegally charged by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) under unconstitutional “loitering” statutes. New York State and Federal Courts had struck down these laws in the 1980s and 1990s, but the NYPD continued to enforce these void statutes, often targeting people based on poverty, race, and sexual orientation.
The three co-counsels—NYLPI, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, and The Bronx Defenders—released the following statement:
“According to the cy pres doctrine, residual settlement funds may be distributed to support a purpose that is in the interest of the original class members. The four nonprofits not only serve the homeless, LGBTQ, and other marginalized New Yorkers who were initially impacted by the enforcement of void loitering laws, but will also know how to best use the remaining funds by providing community-centered legal and social services.”
“We are delighted that the Court has approved our plan to distribute the remaining funds and look forward to further extending the impact of our original settlement by putting the additional $165,000 to good use.”
The Urban Justice Center Sex Workers Project released a statement: “The Sex Workers Project is delighted to receive these funds. We will use this money to assist sex workers by providing legal and social services grounded in human rights values, and to continue to advocate that the criminal justice system treat sex workers with dignity and fairness.”
Picture the Homeless released a statement: “We are grateful to the Court and the other participating organizations. We look forward to using these resources to continue our work to educate and organize homeless folks about their rights, and to advocate for fair and constitutional treatment of homeless people in the future.”
About New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) advances equality and civil rights, with a focus on health justice, disability rights and environmental justice, through the power of community lawyering and partnerships with the private bar. Through community lawyering, NYLPI puts its legal, policy and community organizing expertise at the service of New York City communities and individuals. NYLPI’s partnership with the private bar strengthens its advocacy and connects community groups and nonprofits with critical legal assistance. NYLPI is the recipient of The New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards.
About the Bronx Defenders
The Bronx Defenders provides innovative, holistic, and client-centered criminal defense, family defense, civil legal, and social work support services to 35,000 indigent residents of the Bronx each year. Through community education, leadership development, impact litigation, and legislative reform, we look beyond individual cases to challenge the entrenched problems that drive our clients into the criminal justice system. Our success in and dedication to using affirmative litigation to address endemic problems is based in our deep knowledge of our clients’ concerns, and complements our community engagement efforts.
About Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP is a litigation boutique that handles a diverse array of civil rights, civil liberties, commercial, criminal, and ethics-related matters. We have one of the leading civil rights practices in the country. Our areas of expertise include First Amendment, employment and housing discrimination, election law, sexual harassment and assault, children’s rights, disability rights, prisoners’ rights, police misconduct, wrongful death, wage and hour, and class action litigation.