Thank You!

GT2014_thxOn Tuesday, December 2, BayLegal was part of #GivingTuesday, an international day of giving. Thank you for participating and promoting fairness in the civil justice system!

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Speaker Series: Tulin Acikalin – “Collaborating for Safety”

DSC_7259On November 18 2014, Pacifica Institute hosted Tulin D. Acikalin, Managing Attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid, for her talk on “Collaborating for Safety: Helping Families and Children Live Free from Violence”. Read more at the Pacifica Institute.

Low-Income Residents Face Housing Shortage of Critical Proportions

For low-income Oakland residents, the housing crisis is reaching epidemic proportions. The City of Oakland had the highest annual rent growth in the nation at 9.4 percent. Families struggling to make ends meet watch as their rents are increased at rates that far outpace the Section 8 subsidy levels, as well as their wages.

“Landlords want to get the maximum rent they can,” said Lisa Greif, an attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid.

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Illegal Delays Leave 350,000+ Without Critical Health Care

Groto Ni, a 55-year-old Oakland resident, has worked hard to provide for his family for many years as a janitor, even though he suffers from a number of serious and painful chronic health conditions. Becoming unable to work in late 2013 because of his medical conditions he relies on state disability insurance benefits and food stamps for survival.

Mr. Ni is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, September 17 in Alameda Superior Court (File # RG14740911) accusing the State of California of leaving hundreds of thousands of low income applicants to wait for months without healthcare they desperately need and to which they are lawfully entitled.  Applicants—including low-income children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and even those with life threatening illnesses—go without critical care while they wait for the state to process and approve their Medi-Cal applications. Some applicants in the backlog have been awaiting answers from the state since the end of 2013—far longer than the 45 day time limit required by law.

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HCA Helping Consumers Navigate Medicare/Medi-Cal Integration

Beginning April 1, 2014 the Health Consumer Alliance has been operating as the designated CCI/Cal Mediconnect Ombudsprogram and can be reached for assistance at:  855-693-7285.

BayLegal is proud to be a member of the Health Consumer Alliance and is dedicated to providing quality ombudsman services to Cal MediConnect beneficiaries in the Bay Area.

Learn more about dual coverage by visiting:


Official CalDuals Website


Justice Ginsburg Honored

Ralph Alswang Photographerwww.ralphphoto.com202-487-5025

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg was presented with the Justice John Paul Stevens Lifetime Achievement Award. Presenting the award to Justice Ginsburg was retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The two Justices participated in an in-depth Q & A session moderated by Bay Area Legal Aid’s Executive Director, Alex Gulotta.

The Justices spoke to a crowd of 200 about a variety of topics, including why they chose to pursue a career in law and providing their insights about right to counsel in civil matters.

See the full video from the luncheon here.


John Grisham Commemorates LSC’s 40th Anniversary

Best-selling author John Grisham and BayLegal’s Executive Director, Alex Gulotta, co-author opinion editorial marking 40th anniversary of Legal Services Corporation.

Opinion Editorial published by The Bay Area News Group on September 21, 2014:

Equal justice under law is a fundamental American value, engraved on the Supreme Court building and taught in classrooms across the country. But as the national news spotlights domestic violence and families being evicted just so landlords can turn a bigger profit, it illustrates that despite the high stakes of these civil legal matters there is no right to an attorney. Eviction, child custody, veterans’ benefits, foreclosure—all these matters can be processed in a courtroom with an attorney representing the landlord, the abuser, the bank, but not the tenant, the victim or the homeowner.

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Foster Care: Advocacy Update

California is adding $30 million to its 2014-2015 budget to bring about greater parity in funding for relative foster care placements.

Until now, children placed with relatives have received monthly benefits that are roughly one-third to one-half of what children placed with non-relatives receive. This is because those relative households often do not meet arcane federal eligibility rules to receive foster care benefits, and California has been the lone state to not provide state funding to relative foster parents.

These relative caregiver households have been getting the CalWORKs rate (i.e. $369/mo. to support a child) rather than $820 (plus various supplements for children with special needs) for those meeting foster care eligibility.

Brian Blalock, Bingham McCutchen Fellow, at the invitation of California State Assemblyman Ken Cooley, has been working to address this issue, along with the Alliance for Children’s Rights. Starting in January, 2015, kids in placements with relatives throughout California will have significantly more support and better life options.
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Law Clinic Helps Refugees Access Health Care

On a rainy morning in April, twenty refugees, ten corporate attorneys and two interpreters made their way to BayLegal’s office in Oakland’s Uptown District; there to welcome them was Equal Justice Works Fellow Marina Pantchenko.

The day-long free legal clinic was remarkable. People from seemingly different worlds worked together to overcome language barriers, cultural barriers and a rapidly approaching deadline to appeal Alameda County’s decision to terminate health care coverage for each of the refugees.

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Advocacy Alert: Relative Foster Care Supports

Critical Need for Relative Foster Care Supports  – testimony of Brian Blalock at California Health & Human Services Subcommittee on April 9, 2014


Bay Area Legal Aid Welcomes New Executive Director

January 21, 2014

After an extensive national search and rigorous hiring process, BayLegal’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Alex Gulotta has been selected to serve as BayLegal’s new executive director, following the departure of founding director Ramón Arias.

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Advocacy Alert: Fair Housing Law



BayLegal, along with six other public interest and legal services organizations, won an important victory for families living in public housing in Marin City. The Marin Housing Authority (MHA), which serves a low income and disproportionately minority population in one of the country’s wealthiest counties, was considering a policy to make truancy a lease violation — which could lead  to the eviction of entire families upon MHA determining that a resident student  was truant.  This policy, which threatened to impose additional burdensome procedures and penalties on MHA resident families beyond those already imposed by California Education Code, would have had a disproportionate adverse impact  on African American families in Marin County.

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