The organizations that we fund help thousands of people every year. The John & Abigail Adams Benefit is the area's largest fundraiser for legal services, and 100% of the proceeds will be used for the BBF' s grants to legal services organizations in our community. Leading up to the event we will be featuring stories of those helped by these community non-profits, who work each day to provide hope and help for those in need.
Offering a Chance for a New Beginning
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is a nationally known statewide poverty law AND policy center focusing on systemic reforms to laws, policies and practices to improve the lives of as many low-income people as possible.
MLRI advocacy impacts an estimated 1 million individuals living in Massachusetts who are at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty threshold, a third of whom live in Greater Boston. Their work is informed by open dialogue and close relationships with low-income individuals and client groups, as well as a wide range of local, state and national organizations that serve low-income people.
Selena*, a survivor of domestic violence, and her four-year-old child, Sam, are just one example of a family helped by MLRI. When the two lost their housing and were denied access to shelter, they were forced to sleep in South Station. Thankfully, MLRI was able to get them off the streets by helping them gain access to benefits they qualified for, such as shelter, child care for Sam, cash assistance and food stamps.
With this core support, Selena was able to complete a job training program, find employment and work steadily for the next three years. During this time, Selena and Sam were able to move into housing with a time-limited rental subsidy. Unfortunately, her landlord unlawfully attempted to evict the two before they had located a new apartment. Selena had reason to believe that her landlord had attempted to evict her because of learning that she was a domestic violence survivor.
MLRI advocated with the landlord for Selena and Sam to have three more months to find alternative affordable housing, and recently, the two moved into their new home.
Selena couldn’t be happier about the essential help she and Sam have received from MLRI: “Everyone needs an MLRI.” Selena and Sam’s story is just one of many. MLRI is currently pursuing the following: criminal justice reform focused on fair sentencing and community interventions that prevent crime; advocacy to address hunger and food insecurity; helping homeless families achieve safety and stability by reforming harmful shelter access policies; reforming the state's child welfare system; ensuring that the most vulnerable people are not denied the income supports for which they qualify; allowing lawful immigrants to quality for financial support to pursue educational opportunities; and creating an innovative medical-education-legal partnership to help housing-insecure children achieve stability that benefits their health outcomes.
Even in a prosperous state like Massachusetts, poverty, homelessness and economic insecurity remain very serious problems,” MLRI’s Executive Director Georgia Katsoulomitis told us. “Selena's story is sadly not unique. For too many vulnerable people and working families, finding affordable housing and meeting basic human needs is a challenge and a daily struggle. At MLRI, we work with community partners to identify and tackle widespread problems that affect low-income people and communities, with the goal of achieving economic stability and the opportunity for a better life. We are very grateful for the BBF's support, and thank all those who help advance the BBF's mission to fund legal services for the poor.”
*Name changed to protect the client’s identity