Toussaint Romain, CEO, Celebrates 1 Year at the Advocacy Center

We sat down with Toussaint for a quick interview to hear more about his first year at the Advocacy Center.

Q: Tell us about your first year as CEO at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

A: The first year has been incredibly rewarding. I have been fortunate to step into an organization that has had a strong presence in the community for over 50 years, led by a team of advocates that are passionate about fighting for those in crisis in our community. It’s been gratifying to see the staff develop and to encourage new leaders to emerge. We have come together as a team to address our challenges and identify new opportunities for growth. I’m excited to see what is possible in year two and beyond!

Q: What do you think is the greatest strength of the Advocacy Center?

A: The unwavering support of our community and the attorneys and advocates that show up every day on behalf of our clients, united by a strong mission.  I am inspired by the staff’s driving commitment to prioritize the needs of our clients, their willingness to challenge the systemic status quo, and their ability to creatively solve problems to create tangible resolutions for those in crisis.  Many of our staff members have personal experiences that allow them to relate to what our clients are experiencing, which is crucial to building an empathetic dialogue. 

Q: How have you been able to connect with the community?

A: I take every opportunity I can to be out in the community.  I want to hear directly from the individuals we serve and to understand how we can grow as an organization to meet our community’s changing needs.  We want our clients to know they have someone on their side, ready to listen, and ready to fight for them.  As legal service providers, it can be easy to assume that we are the experts, but no one knows the situation better than the clients themselves.  To be successful, we must view our work as a collaboration between ourselves, our clients, and other critical community organizations.

Q: What is your vision for the future of the Advocacy Center?

A: Thanks to continued support from our community, I envision a strong future for the Advocacy Center.  If we are to truly serve our clients, we must think about how we can advocate in a holistic way.  This means empowering our community through outreach and education opportunities, continuing to advocate for systemic changes that address the underlying issues impacting our clients, expanding our legal services to fully address the most pressing needs of our clients, and strengthening our connections with community partners to provide access to resolutions for our clients, but not only when they are in crisis. 

Advocacy Center Responds to Medicaid Changes

On April 1st, pandemic-era protections that kept individuals enrolled in Medicaid were rolled back.  The Local Department of Social Services (DSS) resumed redeterminations, reducing or terminating Medicaid coverage for those who are no longer eligible. Experts anticipated that approximately 300,000 North Carolinians would lose access to affordable health care as a result. 

To address the looming crisis, Advocacy Center staff engaged in extensive outreach and education efforts with beneficiaries and providers.  The team offered webinars educating those impacted by the change, initiated a state-wide communication effort to increase awareness and connect beneficiaries with critical resources, and engaged the community and our partners through numerous outreach events.  Efforts were focused on educating individuals and families about their rights and how to navigate the complicated process to ensure they maintain access to care.   In addition, staff continued to provide legal assistance to beneficiaries facing service or eligibility denials.

As a result of a settlement agreement reached in October 2022 in Franklin v. Kinsley, formerly known as Hawkins v. Cohen, the Advocacy Center is in a unique position to ensure beneficiaries’ rights will be protected during the redetermination process.  In the settlement agreement, the North Carolina Medicaid agency agreed to extensive and very detailed changes to its procedures, forms, and notices for redetermining Medicaid eligibility for those currently enrolled in Medicaid.  Through enforcement of the settlement agreement, legal staff can ensure the 2.8 million North Carolinians with Medicaid will not lose coverage for which they are still eligible due to procedural terminations. 

“I want to move forward.”-Renita shares how she nearly lost her home and the stability the Advocacy Center was able to help her secure.

Renita is quick to acknowledge the crucial role faith has played in her life. 

“I have been through so much, but I have always had faith that God would see me through it.  Whenever I faced obstacles, he seemed to put the right people in my path.”

Her strong faith and personal determination helped her persevere when she nearly lost her home. 

Renita lived with her elderly mother until her mother passed away.  The oldest of five children, Renita was the only sibling at the time without a stable home of her own.  Her mother wanted Renita to inherit the home they shared.

“It was important to my mom that I have a place to call my own and my siblings were very supportive.”

Renita diligently took over the mortgage payments of the house, working long hours to ensure she could stay in the home.  But when she was contacted by a scam mortgage assistance firm in 2019, the company convinced Renita to send the mortgage payments directly to them.  The fraud continued for 6 months, causing Renita to fall behind on her mortgage.   After losing her job at the onset of the pandemic and unable to recoup the payments from which she was frauded, Renita’s home entered foreclosure.  Renita was unsure of what to do next and was referred to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

“From my first phone call with the Advocacy Center, I felt reassured that we would figure out a solution.”

Leah Kane, Consumer Protection Program Senior Attorney, worked with Renita to officially deed the home in Renita’s name and defend against the foreclosure action.  The Advocacy Center also helped Renita apply for financial assistance through the COVID-related Housing Assistance Fund (HAF).  Once Renita was approved for funding, the Advocacy Center was able to argue in favor of withdrawing the foreclosure case entirely.

“I thank God for the help that was provided and what Leah was able to do.  She was so patient and helpful.  If I had lost my home, I would have had to move in with my daughter or find somewhere else to live.”

The affordable housing crisis in Charlotte and the surrounding areas would have made finding another place to live difficult.  Because Renita’s home has been in her family for nearly 30 years, it is known as a naturally occurring affordable home (NOAH).  Ensuring homeowners like Renita can stay in their homes is essential to building a more sustainable community and allowing families to build generational wealth.  

Renita’s gratitude for the Advocacy Center is effervescent, but when talking to her, one cannot help but be grateful for her in return.  Although she is approaching retirement age, she works 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week, fiercely determined that she will not lose her home. 

“I want to move forward.  Losing my house would have meant going backward.  I’ve worked too hard for that to happen.”

Statement on the End of Title 42

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy welcomes the expiration of Title 42, a public health law that was manipulated to expel vulnerable asylum seekers at our border since March 2020.  At the same time, we express our grave concern that the Biden administration’s “transit ban”, which becomes effective immediately upon the expiration of Title 42, will deny asylum to vulnerable migrants who do not first seek asylum in countries through which they transit on their way to the United States. 

With the anticipated surge in migration, we urge the community to consider the humanitarian crisis underlying this fraught political issue.  As an organization, we are prepared to adapt and pivot to the changing legal environment to serve the best interests of our clients.  We will continue to advocate for policies to ensure fair and humane treatment of migrants and pledge to continue our internal efforts to assist asylum seekers in our community.  It is more important than ever that we have sufficient staffing, resources, and coordination among organizations working with migrants on both sides of the border.  These efforts will ensure due process and the equitable treatment of all people seeking protection.

Our newly arrived neighbors should know that help is available. As they defend their right to remain in the US, it is important to ascertain whether they are eligible for any form of immigration relief.  Immigrants in removal proceedings can obtain this advice, free of charge, from an immigration attorney in the “Pro Bono Room”, a small room the Advocacy Center staffs next to the Charlotte Immigration Court waiting room.  The Pro Bono Room consult empowers the individual to make an informed choice about whether to spend money on legal fees, which can be extraordinarily expensive.  Immigrants are also provided with guidance about how to represent themselves pro se. 

Advocacy Center hours in the Pro Bono Room are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. The Charlotte Immigration Court is located at 5701 Executive Center Drive, Charlotte, NC in the fourth-floor suite.

We urgently need community support to ensure that our organization can continue to provide critical assistance to the many vulnerable migrants affected by the end of Title 42. Community donations will enable us to expand our services and support more individuals in need, including those who may have been impacted by the policy changes. Please donate to help us ensure that no migrant is left without hope.

2022 Annual Report

Our work focuses on protecting those most vulnerable, ensuring they have access to legal representation to meet their basic human needs of safety, economic security and stability. View our Annual Report to learn about the strides we have made in our pursuit of justice for those in need this past year.

Learn about VA Benefits with Emon Northe | Francene Marie Show

Emon Northe, attorney and Veterans Legal Services Unit Manager, joins the Francene Marie Show to share important information about the legal issues facing veterans and the services Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy provides.

2023 Pro Bono Honor Roll

Download a copy of the 2022 Honor Roll

The Mecklenburg Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte is pleased to recognize our committed pro bono attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2022.

Individuals with an asterisk completed more than 50 hours of pro bono service in 2022.

Congratulations and thank you to the dedicated legal professionals listed below. Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies provide access to justice to low-income clients in our community.

Alexander Abramovich
Laida Mariana Alarcon
Ava Rawan Alim*
Joan Shreffler Anderson
Mark E. Anderson
Elizabeth Holt Andrews
Keith F. Atkinson
Alexandra Baruch Bachman
Fitz Edward Barringer*
Danielle T. Bennett
Dylan Michael Bensinger
Maxwell Tanner Bertini
David Loy Blue
Robert C. Bowers
Christopher J. Brady
Stephanie K. Briggs Evans
Brent Michael Caldwell
Jon Paul Carroll
Katherine Elizabeth Carter
Jules Wesley Carter*
Erik James Chamberlin
Amanda Marie Colley
Robert A. Cox, Jr.
Matthew H. Crow
Heather W. Culp
Stephen Thomas Denmark
Richard L. Farley
Joan Isabel Fasulo
Taylor P. Festa
Christopher Thomas Fowler
Nicole Frederick
Kaylan Gaudio
Lindsey Taylor Goehring
Arren Scott Goldman
Miranda Goot*
Emily Kristina Hamblin
Rashaad Bryon Hamilton*
Hailey Erin Hawkins
Mark P. Henriques
Patrick Hubbard Hill
Michaela Connors Holcombe
Keith Lamar Pryor Howard
William Russell Hummel
Jeremiah Aaron Jenkins
France Beard Johnson
Lance F. Johnson
Ross Kelley*
Mark Watkins Kinghorn
Paul Kinney*
Rachel Michelle LaBruyere*
Nicholas Hayes Lee
Kyle Joseph Luebke

Dana C. Lumsden
Allan James MacQuarrie
Nicholas Daniel Mancine
Thomas E. McNeill*
Samuel Clinton Merritt
Amanda A. Mingo
Timothy Misner
Elena Faria Mitchell
Shavala Capri Mitchell
Alice Moscicki
Kevin Patrick Murphy
Kasasira Mwine
Alexis Taylor Narducci
Lara Simmons Nichols
Jeffrey W. O’Neale
Ashley Oldfield
Paul J. Osowski
Fern Ann Paterson
Tyra Denice Pearson*
Kim Brett Perez
Wendy Powell
Tanya M. Powers
Kevin Lee Pratt
Josephina Rivera
Patrick John Rogers
Camila Mariel Rohena Maldonado
Melissa Anne Romanzo
Robert John Roth
D. Blaine Sanders
David M. Schilli
Lindsey Laughridge Smith*
Benjamin Albert Snyder*
Faranak Soubouti
Julie Spahn
W. Todd Stillerman
Tamara J. Stringer
John N. Suhr, Jr.
Raeneice V. Taltoan
Daniel Lee Tedrick
April Anne Tilley
Matthew L. Tomsic
Nicole Susanne Tronolone
Leslie Campbell Tucker III
Nicholas P. Valaoras
Scott P. Vaughn
Alexa Marie Voss
Joan Marie Waldron
Elizabeth Anne Weisner
Kathryn Gillespie Wellman
John R. Wester
Julian H. Wright, Jr.
Erik Randall Zimmerman

North Carolina attorney volunteers!

Be sure to report your pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center to be recognized with your colleagues statewide for your service. Visit to learn more about the N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 and statewide pro bono initiatives.

Attorneys who report at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in a year will be inducted into the NC Pro Bono Honor Society and receive a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina recognizing their service. Learn more and report your hours at

Lo que debe saber sobre el proceso de revaluación de elegibilidad de Medicaid

Cambios llegan a Medicaid después del 1 de abril de 2023

Con algunas excepciones, los beneficiarios de Medicaid no habían estado en riesgo de perder su cobertura desde marzo de 2020.  Sin embargo, a partir del 1 de abril de 2023, su Departamento de Servicios Sociales (DSS) local comenzará a verificar si aún es elegible para Medicaid.  Esto se conoce como redeterminación.

DSS comenzará a reducir o cancelar el servicio de Medicaid para aquellos que ya no son elegibles.  También podrían terminar la cobertura de quienes no devuelvan la información necesaria para determinar su elegibilidad.

Por esta razón, debe asegurarse de que DSS tenga su información de contacto actual (dirección, número de teléfono, etc.) y que responda de inmediato a las llamadas o mensajes que reciba sobre su Medicaid. Las redeterminaciones estarán vigentes hasta el 31 de mayo de 2024. DSS se comunicará con usted entre el 1 de abril de 2023 y el 31 de mayo de 2024 para determinar su elegibilidad.

¿Qué debo hacer?

  • Comuníquese con su oficina local de DSS para asegurarse de que tengan su dirección, número de teléfono, correo electrónico y otra información de contacto.
    • Local DSS Offices:
      • Condado de Mecklenburg
        • 704-336-3000
        • Wallace H. Kuralt Centre, 301 Billingsley Road, Charlotte, NC 28211
        • Centro de Recursos Comunitarios, Community Resource Center, 3205 Freedom Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208
      • Condado de Union
        • 704-296-4300
        • 2330 Concord Avenue Monroe, NC 28110
      • Condado de Cabarrus
        • 704-920-1400
        • 1303 S. Cannon Blvd. Kannapolis, NC 28083
  • Esté atento al correo electrónico, mensajes de texto o llamadas telefónicas que reciba del DSS y responda de inmediato.
  • Cree una cuenta ePass mejorada (
    • Vea sus beneficios,
    • Cargue los documentos que respalden cualquier cambio, como ingresos o tamaño del hogar,
    • Actualice su información en línea.

Tiene derecho a:

¿Qué pasa si pierdo mi cobertura de Medicaid?

Tiene derecho a apelar

Si cree que ha habido un error, puede apelar esa decisión. Tiene 60 días (aproximadamente 2 meses) a partir de la fecha del aviso para solicitar una apelación. Si lo hace dentro de los siguientes 10 días hábiles, puede pedir que su Medicaid continúe mientras se revisa la apelación. Llame al 704-376-1600 y marque la opción 2 para obtener más información.

Los períodos especiales de inscripción (SEP por sus siglas en inglés) están disponibles para la cobertura de Medicare y del Mercado.

Personas que ya no son elegibles para Medicaid pueden ser elegibles para inscribirse en la cobertura de Medicare o del Mercado con un Período de Inscripción Especial.

Programa de Información de Seguro Médico para adultos mayores de Carolina del Norte (SHIIP por sus siglas en inglés)

  • Los consejeros de SHIIP ofrecen información gratuita e imparcial sobre los productos de atención médica y la elegibilidad de Medicare.
  • Llame a 1-855-408-1212

Asistencia legal gratuita disponible

Si cree que su Medicaid fue reducido o terminado injustamente, llame al 800-247-1931.

Para consultar más recursos que lo ayudarán en este proceso visite

Medicaid Rules Have Changed

Ver información en Español 

Changes are coming to Medicaid after April 1, 2023

With a few exceptions, Medicaid beneficiaries have not been at risk of losing coverage since March 2020.  On April 1, 2023, your local Department of Social Services (DSS) will begin checking to see if you are still eligible for Medicaid.  This is known as redetermination. 

DSS will start reducing or terminating Medicaid for those who are no longer eligible.  They will terminate coverage for those that do not return the information needed to determine their eligibility.

You must make sure DSS has your current contact information (address, phone number, etc.) and that you promptly respond to letters you receive about your Medicaid.  Redeterminations will continue on a rolling basis. You will be contacted by DSS between April 1, 2023-May 31, 2024 to determine your eligibility.

What should I do?

  • Contact your local DSS office to make sure they have your current mailing address, phone number, email, and other contact information.
    • Local DSS Offices:
      • Mecklenburg County
        • 704-336-3000
        • Wallace H. Kuralt Centre, 301 Billingsley Road, Charlotte, NC 28211
        • Community Resource Center, 3205 Freedom Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208
      • Union County
        • 704-296-4300
        • 2330 Concord Avenue Monroe, NC 28110
      • Cabarrus County
        • 704-920-1400
        • 1303 S. Cannon Blvd. Kannapolis, NC 28083
  • Watch for mail, texts, or phone calls from DSS and respond promptly. 
  • Create an enhanced E-Pass account (
    • View your benefits,
    • Upload documents supporting any changes, like income or household size,
    • Update your information online

You have the right to:

What if I lose my Medicaid coverage?

You have the right to appeal.

If you believe there has been an error, you can appeal that decision. You have 60 days (about 2 months) from the date of the notice to ask for an appeal. If you do so within 10 business days, you can request that your Medicaid be continued while the appeal is reviewed. Call 704-376-1600 and press 2 for more information.

Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) are available for Medicare and Marketplace coverage. 

Individuals who are no longer eligible for Medicaid may be eligible to enroll in Medicare or Marketplace coverage with a special enrollment period.

Health Insurance Navigators

NC Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP)

  • SHIIP counselors offer free and unbiased information regarding Medicare health care products and eligibility
  • 1-855-408-1212

Free legal assistance may be available.

If you think your Medicaid was wrongfully reduced or terminated, call 704-376-1600 and press 2.

For more helpful resources, visit

It shouldn’t take 5 years for the US to help protect NC immigrants like Santos | Opinion | The Charlotte Observer

By Sharon Dove

In 2000, Congress created the U visa to provide protection from deportation and work authorization for crime victims brave enough to come forward against the individuals who violently abused them.

The U visa was designed to help non-citizens who are victims of crimes in the U.S., such as trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault, and have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse. Congress intended for them to receive a U visa within months of applying, but applicants now wait an average of five years for the promised protection.

During the extraordinarily long wait, U visa applicants — already struggling against the trauma left in the wake of violent crime — must fight grinding poverty and keep the government’s push to deport them at bay.

Many do not make it. Some are deported during the wait, some give up hope and return to their home country.

At the Center for Legal Advocacy in Charlotte, where I direct the Immigrant Justice Program, we have a client named Santos who has a young son. I am not using her full name to protect her identity. Her story illustrates by this five-year wait matters to all of us — why it matters to communities across North Carolina.

Santos called the police after 14 years of abuse that she and her children endured by her boyfriend.

One night, Santos’ boyfriend beat her with his fists and an electrical cord. Bleeding and bruised, she thought her boyfriend intended to kill her. The police arrested the boyfriend and a criminal prosecution ensued.

We filed Santos’ U visa application in December 2015, identifying a son who still lived with her as a derivative applicant. Then, the wait began. Living with the uncertainty of her U visa application status, Santos struggled as a single parent to support her family with a cleaning job that paid only $8.50 an hour. She found the job through an acquaintance who agreed to look the other way at Santos’ immigration status. Santos had no other options. She supplemented her meager income with frequent visits to the local food pantries.

In February 2019, the ground opened underneath Santos when an immigration judge ordered her son’s deportation. By then he was 16. His pending U visa application legally afforded him no protection against removal. As a result, a teenager with a solid claim to status was about to be forced to leave his family and resettle in Honduras.

Our office successfully filed an appeal of the deportation order, which allowed Santos’ son to remain in the United States pending his appeal. Other respondents are not as fortunate. Only 20% of immigrant respondents in the Charlotte Immigration Court are represented by legal counsel. Without legal counsel, it is virtually impossible for an individual to file an appeal.

Five years of waiting ended in December 2020 when Santos and her son received their U visas. Santos proudly presented her work permit to her employer, and her hourly wage immediately increased from $8.50 to $15.50. Her visits to the food pantries stopped. Within months, she was able to sign a contract to purchase her home. Her increased salary and the Social Security Number afforded by the U visa made it all possible.

Santos was lucky to make it to the end of her five-year wait. Many applicants do not share that experience.

It is inexcusable that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services takes an average of five years to provide violent crime victims the protection that Congress intended them to have within months of applying for the U visa. It is our hope that the two federal lawsuits filed by the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Legal Aid of North Carolina, the North Carolina Justice Center, and private attorney Brad Banias will put an end to the delays.

Approximately 170,000 immigrants in the United States are waiting — like Santos did — for adjudication of their U visa applications. These individuals are already cooperating with law enforcement; it’s required to get a U visa. The long delays put them — and our communities — in danger.

Sharon Dove is a Charlotte attorney who is Director of Immigrant Justice Program at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

Read more at: