GOSHEN – A $200,000 state grant secured by Senators James Skoufis (D, Woodbury) and Jennifer Metzger (D, Rosendale) will fund the continuation of the Veterans and Military Families Advocacy Project of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
The funding will pay for two staff attorneys to provide free legal services to those in need in Orange, Sullivan and northern Rockland counties.
The lawmakers were on hand in Goshen on Monday to present a ceremonial check to Legal Services’ CEO Barbara Finkelstein.
She noted her agency covers a nine-county region providing civil legal services.
“There are 600,000 individuals eligible for our services with nowhere else to turn and we really are a lifeline for low-income people who have nowhere to turn when they have civil legal problems affecting the basic necessities of life,” she said.
Last year, Legal Services handled 400 veterans’ cases including navigating the veterans’ administration and disability benefits system, helping veterans to avoid homelessness and bankruptcy, to addressing employment issues and gaining access to benefits, said Metzger.
Skoufis said they were able to secure the funding even though this was “the most difficult budget year that I have been part of.”
The Legal Services veterans program was the “child” of the senators Metzger and he succeeded; the late Senator William Larkin and Senator John Bonacic.
Funding has been in place since 2012.
The other areas of the Legal Services territory do not offer the veterans program as they have not secured the needed funding.