Statement on Wednesday’s Insurrection at the Capitol

From our executive director, Ken Schorr:

Politics profoundly affects our work and our ability to receive fair treatment, adequate income, and needed services for our clients. While I usually avoid discussing partisan politics in my role in our organization, it is imperative to talk about politics in times like these. We have seen an extraordinary display of American politics this week.

The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is, as its name says, a legal advocacy organization. We use our training and skills as lawyers and legal advocates to get our clients what they are due according to the law. We believe to our core in the Rule of Law. Justice lives here, for everyone.

On Wednesday, a violent mob assaulted and vandalized the Capitol Building, during Congressional proceedings, for the purpose of disrupting the counting of electoral college votes to certify the results of the Presidential election. This is a horrifying event that fundamentally contradicts the Rule of Law.

Law enforcement met this crowd of mostly white extremists in a civil manner compared to recent police treatment of thousands of diverse, peaceful protestors calling for racial justice and fair treatment. The stark contrast shows deep institutional racism in our society and illustrates the importance of our work for racial equity and justice.

There must be consequences for this mob and its instigators to reinforce the principle that this is a nation of laws, that apply to everyone, to our clients who are often disfavored but for the law, and to the powerful and favored, who are often excused from compliance or consequences.

The effort to subvert the electoral college count was based on the unsupported assertion that there was widespread election fraud which was repeatedly exposed as untrue in the results of scores of lawsuits filed to overturn election results. This follows the persistent lie that there is widespread voter fraud, as an argument to support extensive and relentless voter suppression efforts, most of which is racially focused, as one court said, to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” We must continue to work to expose and root out these acts of racism as we elect our leaders.

Last, but not least, the State of Georgia, once in the core of the Confederacy, elected two US Senators on Tuesday. One is Raphael Warnock, a Black minister from the Church formerly pastored by Martin Luther King. The other is Jon Ossoff, a young Jewish journalist, the youngest person elected to the Senate in 40 years. I share this result not as a comment on the party they represent, but as an embrace of diversity and inclusion that is a hopeful sign of change.

Welcome to 2021, a new year.

How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit: FAQs

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. Additionally, we have general FAQs regarding the payment, “Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment,” and “Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment.”

What is the Recovery Rebate Credit?

If you are eligible and don’t receive your first or second stimulus payment or the full amount of your payment, you can claim it when you file your 2020 tax return in early 2021. The IRS usually begins to accept returns in late January. This year, the tax form will include a section for filers to claim missed stimulus payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit.

Eligible individuals can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. These forms can also be used by people who are not normally required to file tax returns but are eligible for the credit.

How do I find the stimulus payment amount I received? Refer to your Notice 1444 for the payment amount you were issued, before any offsets. You’ll need to this information to determine the amount to include on the worksheet that will be included in the 2020 Instructions for Form 1040 and 1040-SR and when completing the Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Who Qualifies for the Recovery Rebate Credit? The Recovery Rebate Credit is figured like the first and second stimulus payments, except that the credit eligibility and the credit amount are based on the tax year 2020 information shown on the 2020 tax return filed in 2021.

Generally, you are eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, if you were a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien in 2020, are not a dependent of another taxpayer for tax year 2020 and have a Social Security number valid for employment that is issued before the due date of your 2020 tax return (including extensions).

You can take the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return for any recovery rebate amount that is more than the stimulus payment you received in 2020 and early 2021.

Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment: FAQs

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. See below for FAQs regarding distribution of the second stimulus payment. Additionally, we have general FAQs regarding the payment, “Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment,” and “How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.”

When will the IRS make the second stimulus payments?

The IRS will send the second stimulus payments to taxpayers through January 15th.

Will I receive a letter or notice from the IRS about my second stimulus payment?

Yes, the IRS will issue a notice, or letter, about the second stimulus payment. Please keep your notice, formally called Notice 1444-B, with your tax records. You will need it when you file your 2020 tax return.

How can I check on the status of my second stimulus payment?

You can use the IRS’ Get My Payment tool to check on the status of your second stimulus payment.

Will the IRS’ Get My Payment tool give me the status of my second stimulus payment?

You will be able to check the status of your first and second stimulus payments using the Get My Payment tool. The status includes the date of the payment and the method (direct deposit or mailed payment date). Mailed payments will require more processing and mailing time. As more information becomes available, the IRS will provide updates.

Some people received their first stimulus payment in multiple payments. If you received more than one payment for your first stimulus payment, the Get My Payment tool will show you only the most recent payment information.

I’m having trouble accessing the Get My Payment tool.

Some people visiting the site may get a “please wait” or error message due to the high volumes coming in. The “please wait” message is a normal part of the site’s operation. The IRS encourages people to check back later. Also, there is a limit to the number of times people can access Get My Payment each day. When people reach the maximum number of accesses, Get My Payment will inform them they will need to check back the following day.

I didn’t receive a direct deposit yet. Will I get a second Economic Impact Payment?

Maybe. IRS updated Get My Payment tool (GMP) for individuals who are receiving the second stimulus payment on January 5, 2021. If you checked GMP on or after January 5 then:

  • If GMP reflects a direct deposit date and partial account information, then your payment is deposited there.
  • If GMP reflects a date your payment was mailed, it may take up to 3 – 4 weeks for you to receive the payment. Watch your mail carefully for a check or debit card.
  • If GMP shows “Payment Status #2 – Not Available,” then you will not receive a second Economic Impact Payment and instead you need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 Tax Return.

Because of the speed at which the law required the IRS to issue the second round of stimulus payments, some payments may have been sent to an account that may be closed or, is or no longer active, or unfamiliar. By law, the financial institution must return the payment to the IRS; they cannot hold and issue the payment to an individual when the account is no longer active. If Get My Payment shows “Payment Status #2 – Not Available” you will not receive a second EIP. (You will need to claim it on your 2020 tax return if you are eligible.)   

What if I have a different bank account than I had on my 2019 tax return? What should I do?

If the second stimulus payment was sent to an account that is closed or is no longer active the financial institution must, by law, return the payment to the IRS, they cannot hold and issue the payment to an individual when the account is no longer active. The IRS advises people that if they don’t receive the full amount of their stimulus payment, they should file their 2020 tax return electronically and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their tax return to get their payment and any refund as quickly as possible.

Why can’t the IRS reissue the second stimulus payment to me?

The IRS is working to deliver the second stimulus payment quickly, as required by law, while still preparing for the upcoming 2021 tax filing season. Due to the compressed timeline, the IRS is unable to reissue and mail checks and instead encourages people to file their 2020 tax return electronically to claim and receive the Recovery Rebate Credit quickly as possible.

Can I call the IRS, software company or bank to resolve issues with my Economic Impact Payment?

People should visit IRS.gov for the most current information on the second round of stimulus payments rather than calling the agency or their financial institutions or tax software providers. IRS phone assistors do not have additional information beyond what’s available on IRS.gov.

Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment: FAQs

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. See below for FAQs regarding distribution of the second stimulus payment. Additionally, we have general FAQs regarding the payment, “Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment,” and “How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.

I filed my 2019 tax return as married filing jointly and I have a Social Security number valid for employment while my spouse has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), am I eligible for the second stimulus payment?

You are eligible for a second stimulus payment for yourself and any dependents you claimed who also have Social Security numbers valid for employment, but not for your spouse. (Mixed-status families who did not receive the first stimulus payment due to the previous restrictions on spouses of people filing with ITINs will now be eligible to get that payment retroactively when they file their 2020 tax return. See discussion below.)

I filed my 2019 tax return as married filing jointly and both my spouse and I have ITINs, am I eligible for the second stimulus payment for my dependents who have Social Security numbers valid for employment?

No, you are not eligible for a second stimulus payment for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents. 

I have an ITIN and filed my 2019 tax return as single, am I eligible for the second stimulus payment?

No, you are not eligible for the second stimulus payment.

I have an ITIN and filed my 2019 tax return as Head of Household, am I eligible for the second stimulus payment?

No, you are not eligible for the second stimulus payment. Nor are you eligible for the second stimulus payment for any dependents you claimed, even those dependents with Social Security numbers valid for employment.

Do I qualify for the payment if I’m a resident alien?

A person who’s a qualifying resident alien with a Social Security number valid for employment is eligible for the second stimulus payment only if he or she is a qualifying resident alien in 2020 and may not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer.  A nonresident alien in 2020 isn’t eligible for the second stimulus payment. An alien who received a payment but isn’t a qualifying resident alien for 2020 should return the payment to the IRS.

Questions about Mixed Status families and the Economic Impact Payments? Contact a tax advocate at 980-202-7329.

2021 Advocacy Agenda

We believe our community deserves:

Access to the Legal System
Financial Security and Family Stability
Economic Opportunity
Racial Equity
Immigrant Rights
Affordable Housing
Access to Health Care
Food Security

Download a printable list of our 2021 Advocacy Priorities here.

Access to the Legal System

  • Make our legal systems fair and accessible to all.
  • Empower and support racial equity and justice initiatives.
  • Ensure access for people for whom English is not their primary language
  • Promote universal representation in civil legal matters.
  • Restore state funding for legal service programs to expand civil legal aid across NC.

Financial Security and Family Stability

  • Reform the NC unemployment insurance program to provide financial security to workers affected by the pandemic.
  • Advocate for tax regulations that benefit low-income taxpayers, including the Earned Income
  • Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
  • Enforce consumer rights regarding rent-to-own contracts, contracts for deeds and other alternative home-financing arrangements.
  • Secure safety and stability for immigrant victims of domestic violence and their children.
  • Remove barriers to and expand Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other federal and state cash assistance programs.

Economic Opportunity

  • Alleviate collateral consequences of the criminal justice system to promote fair employment, housing, education, credit, and equal opportunity.
  • Expand eligibility for and access to criminal record expunction and driver’s license restoration.
  • Establish a living wage, strong workplace protections, paid sick leave, and regular schedules, especially for essential workers, to promote economic security, mobility, and independence for working people.
  • Expand immigrants’ ability to gain lawful employment.

Racial Equity

  • Expand outreach to Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other communities of color.
  • Address systemic racism in consumer matters, healthcare, access to public benefits, and other areas of our practice.
  • Protect people of color from inequities in our civil legal system.
  • Obtain and sustain stability in communities of color.

Immigrant Rights

  • Advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the humanity and value of immigrants.
  • Expand access to affordable, reliable, high quality legal services to immigrants in removal proceedings.
  • Help unaccompanied minors and their sponsors obtain immigration relief.

Affordable Housing

  • Preserve and expand affordable housing units and prevent homeowner and tenant displacement from affordable housing.
  • Enforce CARES Act protections against mortgage foreclosure to protect home stability and generational wealth in low-income communities.
  • Fight predatory real estate investors that steal equity and displace homeowners.
  • Protect homeowners from abusive collection and foreclosure practices on the part of community associations.
  • Provide local property tax relief and public and private assistance to prevent tax foreclosures.
  • Represent immigrant tenants facing eviction and unsafe living conditions to promote housing stability, health, and wellbeing.

Access to Healthcare

  • Promote Medicaid expansion without work requirements in NC.
  • Protect and enhance the Affordable Care Act by increasing access to affordable coverage and expanding the enrollment period.
  • Ensure access to quality health care for Medicaid recipients under NC’s overhaul and privatization of the Medicaid program.
  • Eliminate barriers to care for veterans in regional VA Health Care facilities.
  • Promote timely access to care for children served by local healthcare management entities.

Food Security

  • Ease the burden of applying and recertifying for food and nutrition services.
  • Protect clients from unfair overpayment and fraud claims involving food and nutrition services.
  • Expand language services for people applying for food and nutrition services.
  • Enhance availability of Pandemic EBT and expand other programs to ensure children have access to food.
  • Restore NC’s ability to seek waiver of strict work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries.

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COVID Relief Act $600 Stimulus Payments: General FAQs

*Originally posted on Dec. 30th, 2020. Updated Jan. 8th, 2021*

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. See below for general FAQs regarding the payment. Additionally, we have FAQs regarding “Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment,” “Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment,” and “How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.”

Who is eligible for the second stimulus payment?

Generally, if you’re a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien, you may be eligible for $600 ($1,200 for a joint return), plus $600 for each qualifying child, if you (and your spouse if filing a joint return) aren’t a dependent of another taxpayer on a 2019 tax return, have a social security number (SSN) valid for employment (see exception when married filing joint) and your adjusted gross income (AGI) does not exceed:

  • $150,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower;
  • $112,500 if filing as head of household; or
  • $75,000 for eligible individuals using any other filing status
  • Your payment will be reduced by 5% of the amount by which your AGI exceeds the applicable threshold above.

You aren’t eligible for a payment if any of the following apply to you:

  • You were claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s 2019 tax return (for example, a child or student who may be claimed on a parent’s tax return or a dependent parent who may be claimed on an adult child’s tax return).
  • You don’t have a Social Security number that is valid for employment issued before the due date of your 2019 tax return (including any extensions).
  • You’re a nonresident alien.
  • People who died before 2020.
  • Are an estate or trust.

What is meant by a Social Security number that is valid for employment?

A valid Social Security number for the second stimulus payment is one that is valid for employment in the United States and is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) before the due date of your 2019 tax return (including the filing deadline postponement to July 15 and an extension to October 15 if you requested it).

If you were a U.S. citizen when you received the Social Security number, then it’s valid for employment. If “Not Valid for Employment” is printed on your Social Security card and your immigration status has changed so that you are now a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, ask the SSA for a new Social Security card. However, if “Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization” is printed on your Social Security card, you have the required Social Security number only if the Department of Homeland Security authorization is valid.

How much will the second stimulus payment be?

The second stimulus payment will be $600 per qualifying adult ($1,200 for married taxpayers filing a joint return) and $600 per child under 17 years old. Children who are 17 years old and older as well as other dependents are not eligible for the $600 second stimulus payment.

What do I need to do to get my payment?

No action is necessary. Your payment will be issued based on the information the IRS has on file for your 2019 tax return, the information provided by you to the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, payment information entered on the Get My Payment tool, or information provided by a Federal Agency that issued benefits to you (Social Security Administration, Veteran Affairs, or Railroad Retirement Board). (If you don’t get a payment and you are eligible to receive one, it may be claimed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.)

Will the Non-Filers tool be available if I’m not required to file and didn’t use it before November 22, 2020?

No. The Non-Filers tool is no longer available. (If you are eligible for a second stimulus payment and don’t get one, the payment may be claimed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.)

What tax year will the IRS look to in determining my eligibility for the second stimulus payment?

The IRS will look to the 2019 tax year to make eligibility determinations for the second stimulus payment.

Will I need to pay the second stimulus payment back to the IRS at some point and will the payment affect my eligibility for other tax credits?

You will not need to pay the second stimulus payment back to the IRS because the payments are an advance against a new credit for tax year 2020 and these payments will not affect your eligibility for other tax credits.

I’m a college student, can I receive the $600 second stimulus payment if I can be claimed as someone else’s dependent?

You can’t receive the $600 second stimulus payment if you can be claimed as someone else’s dependent. You can be claimed as someone else’s dependent based on your relationship to the filer, your age, whether you lived with your parents for more than half of the year, and whether you were financially independent for more than half of the year, among other factors. This will affect many full-time college students under age 24. However, it’s important to review the rules, since not all college students are dependents. (People who were dependents in 2019, but not 2020, can claim both stimulus payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return.)

Do I need earned income to qualify for a second stimulus payment?

You don’t need to have earned income to qualify. The second stimulus payment is available to those with little to no income. Even if you are making $0, you can still receive the full payment. The second stimulus payments phase out at higher income levels, starting at $75,000 for single filers. The phase-out rates are the same between the first and second round of payments – $5 for every $100 that you made above the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit – but because the second stimulus payments are smaller, some people who received a partial payment in the first round won’t get one this time.

Will the second stimulus payment affect my eligibility for public benefits?

Like other tax refunds, the second stimulus payment will not count toward eligibility for means-tested programs and will be disregarded as an asset for 12 months. This means the second stimulus payment won’t jeopardize your participation in programs including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and public housing.

Is the second stimulus payment treated as taxable income?

No, the second stimulus payment is not considered taxable income.

Is an incarcerated individual eligible for the second stimulus payment?

Yes, individuals will not be denied a second stimulus payment solely because they are incarcerated.  An incarcerated individual may be issued a payment if all eligibility requirements are met and the individual filed a 2019 tax return that was processed by the IRS or used the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool prior to November 22, 2020. (Incarcerated individuals who don’t get a second stimulus payment and are eligible to receive one, may claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return. They can also claim the first stimulus payment as a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return.)

Can the second stimulus payment be intercepted?

The second stimulus payment can’t be intercepted for past-due taxes, student loans, Unemployment Insurance over-payments, or for child support that is owed (the first stimulus payment was subject to seizure for outstanding child support).

Where can I get more information?

For more information about Economic Impact Payments and the 2020 Recovery Rebate, key information will be posted on IRS.gov/eip. Later this week, you may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For other COVID-19-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/Coronavirus.

New COVID-19 relief act signed. Aid extended to millions.

On December 22nd congress passed the most recent COVID-19 relief package. The act provides $908 billion dollars in aid to families, businesses, nonprofits, and states. As we learn more about the act and how the programs and funding will be implemented, we will update our website and social media accordingly. Please contact us at the appropriate numbers below if you or your family are struggling and need assistance.  

This list is not exhaustive, and the bill contains programs and funding not listed here.  

Here is what we know so far: 

Unemployment Insurance

This act extends the CARES Act’s unemployment insurance expansion through March 14th, 2021. Specifically, this act:  

  • Provides an additional $300 per week to supplement all state and federal unemployment benefits, starting after December 26, 2020 and ending March 14, 2021 through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides continued unemployment assistance to the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, part-time workers and other individuals in non-traditional employment. It also increases the number of weeks of PUA benefits an individual may claim, from 39 to 50; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, providing additional weeks of federally-funded benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits. It also increases the weeks of PEUC benefits an individual may claim, from 13 to 24 and; 
  • Provides full federal financing of state Shared Work programs, allowing employees who are working reduced hours to claim partial unemployment compensation, through March 14, 2021. 

For FAQs about unemployment insurance click here. Apply for unemployment at the Department of Employment Security website or call 1-888-737-0259. If you have questions regarding your application or how the new relief bill affects your unemployment benefits, call our hotline 980-256-3979 and leave a message to receive assistance in English or Spanish. 

Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Checks) 

Critical financial support in the form of one-time direct payments of $600 is being made available for individuals making up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, as well as an extra $600 per eligible child dependent. We do not know if this amount will be increased. This is the same eligibility as the original $1,200 stimulus payment, but also expands these direct payments to mixed-status households, ensuring that millions of immigrant families across the U.S. get access to this relief. 

These payments will likely be distributed in a similar way as the $1,200 payments through direct deposit or check. Stay up to date with this information on the IRS website

Those who did not previously receive the original $1,200 stimulus check or received the incorrect amount may be able to receive it through a Recovery Rebate Credit when filing you 2020 tax return. Learn more here. 

If you have questions about the $600 economic impact payments or the recovery rebate credit, contact a tax advocate at: 980-202-7329  

Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance 

This act extends the CDC Eviction Moratorium through January 31st, 2021. Read more on how you can use the moratorium to prevent eviction here. 

An additional $25 billion will be distributed to existing local housing agencies that can best distribute these funds on behalf of tenants. It is unclear what organizations or programs this funding will go toward but can be used to pay past due rent, future rent payments and utility and energy expenses.  

The act provides $638 million to assist low-income families with drinking water and wastewater utility bills. This money will also be distributed via state and tribal governments. You can apply for utility assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or RAMP Charlotte. 

Nutritional and Food Assistance 

Millions of families across the country are struggling to put food on the table. This act addressed food insecurity by: 

  • Increasing monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for the next six months beginning January 1st, 2021 through June 30th, 2021. Unless there are other supplements, this increase will be added to the current maximum eligible monthly amount per family size;  
  • Excluding Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) from being counted as income for calculating eligibility and amount of SNAP benefits; 
  • Extending SNAP eligibility to college students who are eligible for a federal or state work study program or have an expected family contribution of $0 and; 
  • Improves the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (PEBT) program to school-age children and expands the program for children younger than six years old.  

If you need assistance with applying for SNAP, PEBT, or other public benefits, contact our Family Support and Healthcare Unit at 704-376-1600. 

Bankruptcy 

The act provides that consumers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases will not be denied a discharge if they miss 3 or fewer mortgage payments because of a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID–19. Consumers can have utility service maintained or restored after filing bankruptcy without paying a deposit. Also, consumers cannot be denied a mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act if they have filed bankruptcy or received a bankruptcy discharge. 

USCIS Required to Accept New DACA Applications

On Dec. 4, 2020, in Batalla Vidal, et al. v. Wolf, et al. the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York required USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to again accept first-time DACA applications based on the terms of the DACA policy that were in effect prior to the Administration’s putative rescission of the DACA program on Sept. 5, 2017. USCIS is also now required to accept applications for advance parole and continues to accept DACA renewal requests. USCIS will be extending all one-year DACA approvals and employment authorization documents for two years.   

On Dec. 22, a federal judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on the legality of the DACA program in a case brought by the State of Texas. It could be many weeks from the date of the hearing until the judge issues a decision. However, USCIS is currently accepting initial applications for DACA.  

DACA enables certain people who came to the U.S. as children and meet several key guidelines to request consideration for deferred action. It allows non-U.S. citizens who qualify to remain in the country for two years, subject to renewal. Recipients are eligible for work authorization and other benefits and are shielded from deportation.   

The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Immigrant Justice Program encourages individuals who may be eligible to file an initial DACA application to contact us for assistance as soon as possible. We continue our representation of individuals who are interested in renewing their DACA status and encourage those individuals to contact us as well. Thanks to a partnership with the Hispanic Federation, there are limited funds available to pay for DACA applications and renewals. Contact us at 800-247-1931.

You may be eligible for DACA if you meet the following requirements: 

  • You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; 
  • You came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; 
  • You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; 
  • You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS; 
  • You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012; 
  • You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and 
  • You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. 

As we look toward a new federal administration, we encourage those who can advocate for immigrant rights to contact your local representatives to show your continued support for DACA recipients, asylum seekers, and other immigrants in the United States. Let us celebrate this victory with continued activism and momentum into the new year.

Justice for Lake Arbor Tenants Subjected to Dangerous Housing Conditions

The NC Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and the law firm of Robinson Bradshaw filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the former owners and property managers on behalf of class of Lake Arbor tenants who had paid rent during periods of time when serious Housing Code violations were left unrepaired in their units.

To read the Lake Arbor settlement agreement click here.

If you believe you are entitled to funds from the Lake Arbor settlement, please fill out this online form (English) (Spanish) or leave a voicemail at 704 376-1600 ext. 524.

Si usted piensa que tiene derecho a recibir fondos del avenimiento de Lake Arbor, por favor llene este formulario en línea (inglés)(español).

Charlotte (Dec. 9, 2020) – The former owners and managers of west Charlotte’s Lake Arbor Apartments agreed to pay $547,500, to settle litigation brought on behalf of a class of former tenants. The Charlotte Housing Inspector found the class of former tenants’ apartments to have dangerous conditions.

The North Carolina Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and Robinson Bradshaw represented plaintiffs in the case against Lake Arbor Dean TIC LLC and Lake Arbor 80M TIC, LLC, as well as former property managers Broad Management Group, LLC and Wellington Advisors, LLC. The state Superior Court complaint alleged that the former Lake Arbor owners and property managers violated Charlotte’s Housing Code and North Carolina consumer protection laws between 2015 and 2019 when they improperly sought and collected rent from tenants living in Lake Arbor apartments found to have dangerous conditions. The complaint alleged that the Lake Arbor Apartments owners’ and property managers’ actions violated North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Unfair Debt Collections Act, and Residential Rental Agreements Act. The defendants denied those allegations and claimed that they did nothing wrong or illegal.

“These landlords kept taking the rent and taking the rent, all the while refusing to fix serious safety problems in tenants’ units, as found by the City,” said former Lake Arbor tenant and class plaintiff Serita Russell. “It’s about time they were called to account. I’m glad the lawsuit was settled, and I hope other landlords take this as a lesson on what happens when a landlord cares more about making money than the safety of its tenants.”

After the filing, Lake Arbor evicted all tenants rather than complete repairs. The defendants then sold the property to New York-based URS Capital Partners in April. This sequence of events exposed how dire Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis has become, leaving tenants vulnerable to displacement and homelessness just for exercising their rights to a safe and habitable place to live.

An important consequence of the litigation is that landlords in Charlotte will think twice about allowing dangerous conditions to persist at their properties.

“Landlords and property managers are legally obligated to keep units in a fit and habitable condition and make timely repairs of all violations noted by local housing inspectors,” said Julian Wright, an attorney at Robinson Bradshaw. “Continuing to collect rent while failing to make such repairs can itself violate the law, subjecting the landlords to the possibility of treble damages and attorneys’ fees.”

The North Carolina Justice Center is one of the state’s preeminent voices for economic and social justice. As a leading progressive research and advocacy organization, its mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services, and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security. For more information, visit www.ncjustice.org

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly Legal Services of Southern Piedmont) provides expert legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford it, but desperately need it, something the organization has been doing since its inception in 1967. The Advocacy Center serves more than 3,500 families each year who are facing a crisis of safety, shelter, health or income. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy provides committed advocacy work on behalf of clients, resulting in policy changes at the local and national level to impact a greater number of people. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is a champion for those in need, ensuring their safety, economic security and family stability. For more information, visit charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

Robinson Bradshaw is a Carolinas-based corporate law firm celebrating 60 years of providing comprehensive legal services to our clients. We represent businesses across the country ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Visit robinsonbradshaw.com for more information

Looking Toward a New Administration

Friends,

This has been an unparalleled election season for many reasons, among them occurring during a global pandemic and national protests for racial justice. We now know the outcome of our national and state elections. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy applauds those who have fought so fiercely to protect the democratic process, register others to vote, and cast their own ballot. Despite numerous obstacles, North Carolinians voted early and by-mail in record numbers yielding this historic administration. Kamala Harris is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be elected to national office—an incredible achievement for Harris and the United States as a whole. This is a historic end to an historic year.  

Now, more than ever, our country needs strong leadership to overcome the socio-economic consequences of this pandemic. We hope that the Biden administration will implement policies that expand services and protections to low-income families and all United States residents during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these issues include universal healthcare, raising the federal minimum wage, ensuring the availability of asylum relief for immigrants, and expanding access to our legal system. 

The Advocacy Center also acknowledges the important role of the state legislature in passing policies that impact our community and our clients. Here are a few key issues affecting North Carolinians that our organization encourages the state legislature to pass and for our community to support: 

  • Medicaid Expansion: Access to affordable care is critical during the COVID-19 crisis. North Carolina is just one of twelve states not to have expanded Medicaid eligibility so that all state residents have affordable healthcare options. Without Medicaid expansion, it is estimated that over 500,000 people fall into the coverage gap—even more since the start of the pandemic. Learn more about the coverage gap here
  • Fixing our broken unemployment insurance system: Over one million North Carolinians have applied for unemployment benefits since March. The overwhelming volume of applications paired with implementing new assistance programs has caused significant delays, making the process more confusing for applicants. These funds are critical to families trying to recover from this pandemic. 
  • Expanding food assistance programs: The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program expanded food assistance for North Carolinian families during this pandemic. Families receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) have been receiving the maximum eligible benefits through October 2020. To ensure individuals can feed their families, these programs and expansions must continue without work requirements. 
  • State funded rent and mortgage relief: The CDC Eviction Moratorium expires on December 31st, 2020 with no adequate plan to keep all North Carolinians safely housed. The state legislature must act quickly to increase program funding for rent and mortgage relief by allocating nearly 1.5 billion unreserved dollars toward assistance for families affected by COVID-19.  

While these issues have a distinct urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also necessary social safety nets beyond this global crisis. As federal and state protections expire, programs must be implemented to ensure there is support for all North Carolinian families to endure this pandemic and put our state on the road toward economic recovery. 

While we celebrate the incredible work of activists, voters, and elected officials across the country, the fight for safety, security and stability in our society continues. Call your state and federal representatives regularly to show your support of low-income North Carolinian families and pandemic relief efforts. Volunteer with community organizations, exercise your constitutional right to protest and petition, and practice empathy and compassion. Our community’s influence does not end after we cast our ballot: looking beyond electoral politics is integral to lasting change. 

This year has certainly presented challenges to our communities, but Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will continue to serve and affirm low-income families, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, disabled people, and immigrants. We strongly believe that diversity of life and experience is what makes our country great and we will persist in fighting for access to justice for all people. Our vision is to build a just community, where all people are treated fairly, which does not, and will never, end after an election. 

Sincerely, 

The staff at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy