United Way Neighborhoods

In January, United Way of Greater Charlotte announced a 2023 investment of $16 million into the Charlotte region to fight poverty and improve economic mobility.   As part of the initiative, the Advocacy Center will partner with 8 neighborhoods under the United Neighborhoods grant to offer civil legal assistance to residents. These neighborhoods include:

  • Graham Street/N. Tryon Street
  • Lakeview
  • Albemarle Rd/Central Ave
  • Freedom Drive/Wilkson Boulevard
  • North Mecklenburg: W. Davidson/Smithville/Pottstown
  • North Mecklenburg: Huntington Green
  • Sugar Creek/I-85
  • West Boulevard
  • Grier Heights

The Advocacy Center’s Community Empowerment Project was part of the pilot United Neighborhood program in Grier Heights. Building on what was learned this past year, this opportunity further reflects our organization’s shift to offer place-based services.   Our new Community Advocacy team will partner directly with the neighborhood quarterbacks to empower communities to self-identify their most pressing civil legal needs. We look forward to developing these partnerships to create sustained change in our community!

Tyre Nichols

Tyre Nichols

A human being. A Black man. A son. A father. A friend. A skateboarder. An amateur photographer. A victim of police brutality murdered at only 29 years old. We say again, a HUMAN BEING.

We say his name to give him the respect and dignity he deserved; two things the Memphis police officers that murdered him in early January withheld from him. The violent assault on Mr. Nichols is nothing new. The reality for many Black people is that they have come to expect violence at the hands of police officers because of a culture of aggressive policing that has existed since the initiation of the police force.

We empathize with the grief of Mr. Nichols’s family and the entire Black community. We stand with those who demand real change and protest a system that does not provide justice for all. We dream of a community that is strengthened by the uplifting of ALL its citizens.

Advocacy Center Welcomes Federal Court Decision to End Title 42

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy welcomes the decision of US District Judge Emmet Sullivan to strike down the controversial Title 42 immigration policy, a public health law that was manipulated to expel vulnerable asylum seekers at our border.  Judge Sullivan ruled the law was “arbitrary and capricious” and faulted the US government  for “its decision to ignore the harm that could be caused” by issuing the policy.  He reluctantly granted the Biden administration’s request for a stay; the ruling will be on hold until midnight December 21st.

On December 27, 2022, the US Supreme Court granted the motion of states including (but not limited to) Texas and Louisiana to stay Judge Sullivan’s vacatur of Title 42 until a full Supreme Court hearing on the policy can take place.  The hearing is expected to occur in February or March and a final decision is unlikely to be issued until June.

Immigrant Justice Program Director, Sharon Dove commented on the ruling saying, “We firmly believe that it is necessary to lift Title 42 to ensure safe, legal entry to migrants who qualify for asylum.  Allowing this false public health measure to remain in place did not resolve the ongoing crisis at the border and we urge the Biden administration to protect those who need it the most.  We advocate for policies to ensure fair and humane treatment of asylum seekers and pledge to continue our internal efforts to assist asylum seekers in our community.”

After Title 42 is lifted, those seeking asylum in the U.S. will still face an uphill battle. As of January 2022, wait times for an asylum hearing averaged five years.  We must continue to advocate for fair and humane asylum policies, as well as sufficient staffing, resources, and coordination with organizations working with asylum seekers on both sides of the border.  These efforts will ensure due process and the equitable treatment of all people seeking protection.

Skadden Fellow Joins our Veterans Legal Services Unit

Nevah Jones joined the Advocacy Center as a Skadden Fellow in our Veterans Legal Services Unit in September.  In addition to serving as an attorney for low-income veterans in need of service-related payments and benefits from VA, Nevah will expand our existing medical-legal partnership to include legal training for clinicians providing care to veterans.

Nevah will focus on educating clinicians about what is legally necessary to craft a medical opinion in support of a veteran’s VA claims, as veterans have a higher burden of proof when submitting medical documentation for service-related disability benefits.  She will advocate to address potential systemic issues in the initial stages of medical assessment that may result in payment or benefit denials for those to whom it is lawfully due. In addition, Nevah will also work with clinicians to identify health care barriers for veterans living with racial trauma stemming from military service.  Racial discrimination within the military contributes to mental health conditions that may result in less than honorable discharge characterizations.  Veterans who seek to upgrade their discharge characterization to access treatment or service-related benefits need credible medical evidence of their race-based trauma.

As a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, Nevah feels a unique connection to this work:

“In the military, I saw injured servicemembers pressured to ‘soldier on’ instead of seeking the medical care that they needed. Those same individuals were then disciplined and discharged when their untreated ailments made it difficult to do their jobs. I regret that I could not do more for my airmen then. It is because of them that I am singularly focused on getting veterans access to necessary health care and benefits today.”

Read Nevah’s full bio

If you are a clinician or attorney interested in learning more about these educational and legal efforts, please contact Nevah.

Settlement Reached in NC Medicaid Terminations Case

A settlement was reached on October 14, 2022, subject to court approval, in Franklin v. Kinsley, formerly known as Hawkins v. Cohen.  The federal class action lawsuit was filed in 2017 by Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the National Health Law Program on behalf of Medicaid beneficiaries in North Carolina.  In the lawsuit, the Advocacy Center and National Health Law Program alleged that the North Carolina Medicaid agency, along with county Departments of Social Services (DSS), were terminating and reducing Medicaid benefits without considering eligibility under all Medicaid categories.  It was alleged that this was done without providing timely and adequate written notice, in violation of federal Medicaid statute and the U.S. Constitution.  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 the 2.8 million North Carolinians currently enrolled in Medicaid.

The settlement comes at a crucial time as the COVID-19 public health emergency is widely expected to end in January 2023.  While the public health emergency is in effect, Medicaid beneficiaries are protected from termination or reduction of their health care coverage. If the public health emergency ends in January, eligibility reviews that can trigger reductions or terminations of Medicaid will begin in February.  The protections provided to beneficiaries under this settlement will be critical during that process.

“I want to thank state Medicaid officials for working collaboratively with us over many months to reach this agreement, which provides comprehensive and very timely protections for so many low-income and medically needy North Carolinians,” said Doug Sea, Senior Attorney, the Advocacy Center, who led this litigation for Plaintiffs.

Among the many protections for NC Medicaid beneficiaries detailed in the settlement agreement are the following:

  • Not have their Medicaid stopped or reduced because the county DSS has not timely redetermined their eligibility;
  • To have their eligibility be considered under all categories before their Medicaid is stopped or reduced;
  • To have their claim of disability considered prior to termination or reduction of their Medicaid benefits;
  • To have their Medicaid continue without them doing anything if DSS has enough information from other sources to show that they are still eligible;
  • To ask for and receive assistance from DSS in obtaining any information needed to redetermine their eligibility;
  • To be able to reach their county DSS promptly by telephone;
  • To receive a written notice before their Medicaid is reduced or terminated that clearly and specifically states why this action will be taken;
  • To have their case reopened if they provide the information needed by DSS after their benefits are stopped.

“This agreement provides a national model that we hope other states will follow, especially as they prepare for the end of the Public Health Emergency,” said Jane Perkins, Legal Director of the National Health Law Program, who co-counseled the case with the Advocacy Center. “Once the PHE ends, state Medicaid agencies will be making massive redeterminations of Medicaid eligibility for millions of people who had coverage during the duration of the PHE. Millions of people could improperly lose their insurance coverage if this is not done right. Robust eligibility and redetermination protections, like those just agreed to in North Carolina, will go a long way in ensuring that eligible people do not lose access to care.”

Before the agreement can be approved, the court must hold a fairness hearing to allow class members to object. That hearing is scheduled for January 13, 2023 at 11:00am at the federal courthouse in New Bern, North Carolina.

If Medicaid beneficiaries in North Carolina have any questions about their rights, they may contact the attorneys at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.  They may call toll-free at 1-800-936-4971. They can also send the lawyers an email at Hawkinsinfo@charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

About Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy provides those in need with information, advice, and advocacy in consumer protection, home preservation, health care access and public benefits, immigration, tax assistance, and more. Our mission is to pursue justice for those in need. Our vision is to build a just community, where all people are treated fairly and have access to legal representation to meet their basic human needs of safety, economic security, and stability. Learn more: charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

About National Health Law Program

 The National Health Law Program, founded in 1969, protects and advances health rights of low-income and underserved individuals and families. We advocate, educate and litigate at the federal and state levels to advance health and civil rights in the U.S. www.healthlaw.org

Legal Documents

Settlement Agreement

Settlement Agreement Regarding Attorneys Fees

Attorney Timesheet Summary

Notice to Class regarding Attorney’s Fees Settlement

Notice of Rights Under Settlement Agreement

Free Legal Clinic: Saturday, August 20th

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will be hosting a legal clinic at Devonshire Elementary, 6500 Barrington Drive, on Saturday, August 20th from 12-3pm. Free legal assistance (by appointment only) and advice will be available in the following service areas:

  • Immigration relief
  • Landlord-tenant law education
  • Veterans: Character of discharge, discharge upgrades, VA applications, and more
  • Expunctions
  • Credit reports
  • Education on Medicaid health plans and services
  • Healthcare Powers of Attorney
  • Finding and applying for health insurance
  • Tips to understand the processes for public benefits (Social Security, Medicaid, Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)), Work First Family Assistance (WFFA)

Appointments are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Advocacy Center Statement on Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Decision

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is aware of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. While this decision and the ultimate overturning of Roe v. Wade does not directly impact our work, it will impact the clients that we fight for every day.

The Advocacy Center will continue to advocate for our clients to ensure they have access to quality, affordable healthcare and will increase awareness of North Carolina’s recent expansion of Medicaid postpartum coverage. We will continue to support Medicaid expansion in North Carolina and utilize our advocates to increase access to healthcare coverage for the most vulnerable populations.

Our mission is to pursue justice for those in need and we stand with those that experience healthcare injustices.