DC 37 MELS Update

MELS is here to help members

DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services is here to help members with their income maintenance and housing issues.

MELS attorneys are here to help if you have received a legal notice, are in need of rental assistance or have a question about a lease renewal, rent increase, repair dispute, rent subsidy, income recertification, SCRIE or other landlord-tenant matters. Call the Screening Unit at (212) 815-1111 or email: [email protected].

TAX WEBINAR NOW ONLINE, FREE TAX PREP STARTS FEB. 1

The MELS Tax Tips 2020 Webinar video and PowerPoint slide show are now available online. To watch, please click MELS Tax Tips webinar video replay:  http://bit.ly/3a4JtVC

MELS Tax Tips webinar slides:  http://bit.ly/3qXdvkT

Starting Feb. 1, Food Bank for NYC will offer free, contactless tax preparation services for low income New Yorkers to help them get the refunds and credits they are entitled to, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that can be worth up to $8,852 for some families. Free tax prep is available at: https://www.foodbanknyc.org/taxhelp/

The IRS will accept 2020 tax returns beginning Feb. 12. The deadline to file your taxes is April 15.

MATRIMONIAL WEBINAR on FEB. 18, 5:30 PM

Are you considering getting a divorce? The union's team of legal experts can help. The MELS Matrimonial webinar is Thursday Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m. This webinar will explain: the issues decided in a divorce; how to have MELS represent you; what documentation you need to begin divorce proceedings, and more. To join the webinar register at www.dc37mels.com. You will receive the Meeting ID e-mail before the event. For more information, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected]t

STUDENT LOAN FORBEARANCE thru SEPT. 30

President Joe Biden extended the student loan payment forbearance created under the CARES Act through Sept. 30.

Borrowers with direct federal student loans in repayment continue to be excused from making their regular month payments. No interest and no penalties will accrue. Collection activity is also suspended. Borrowers can opt to make voluntary principal balance payments. For more information, please read the DC 37 blog and call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected]t for assistance.

NYS EVICTION MORATORIUM thru MAY 1

A sweeping eviction ban gives relief to qualifying tenants fearful of losing their homes during the pandemic through May 1. To qualify for protection from eviction, tenants must file a “hardship declaration.” The law does not absolve the financial obligations of renters who file declarations, leaving them subject to eviction after May 1. Click on https://bit.ly/3nj8O2u to view a sample “hardship declaration” that you can print and submit to your landlord. To speak with a MELS attorney about the eviction ban or any other housing matter or to access your free legal service benefits, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected].

PAID FAMILY LEAVE BENEFIT

The Paid Family Leave benefit is 12 weeks. The maximum weekly paid benefit is $971.61, or $1,943 bi-weekly. This union-negotiated New York State benefit is available to all DC 37 members, including those in the six nonprofit and private sector locals. PFL provides a salary and job security while you bond with your newborn or adopted child, care for a sick parent, and more. For details please read the DC 37 PFL blog: http://bit.ly/2KeqChJ. To acess the 2021 PFL calculator, visit: http://on.ny.gov/2LsklQ8

 MELS COVID-19 WORKERS' COMP and SHORT-TERM DISABILITY

DC 37 members who believe they have contracted coronavirus in the line of duty can apply for New York State Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, DC 37 Health & Security short-term disability benefits may be available for members who have filed Workers’ Compensation claims. For more information click here: http://bit.ly/3ptCdt0

EDUCATION FUND

DC 37 EDUCATION FUND PROVIDES FREE SOCIAL WORKER WORKSHOPS FOR LOCAL 768 MEMBERS

The DC 37 Education Fund in conjunction with the National Association of Social Workers, New York City Chapter, plans to host two (2) continuing education workshops online in Feb. and March for eligible Local 768 licensed Social Workers:

Transformance in Action: AEDP in Clinical Social Work (4 CEU’s) – Sat., March 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Registration deadline is Feb. 24). To attend these virtual workshops complete the online application here: www.dc37edfund.org/socialworkfebmar2021

For more information, email: [email protected] or [email protected]. 

TUITION REIMBURSEMENTAs DC 37 resumes its Tuition Reimbursement program, we have streamlined the application process. There may be longer than usual processing time required; thank you for your patience. Members should mail in their completed reimbursement applications and supporting documents to: DC 37 Education Fund Attn: Tuition Refund, 75 Broad Street, Suite 2204 New York, NY 10004

CONFUSED ABOUT CUNY? SIGN UP FOR A FREE PERSONAL ADVISEMENT SESSION:

Are you interested in CUNY but feeling confused or overwhelmed by all the options? Let Worker Education at the CUNY School of Labor & Urban Studies (SLU) help guide you through the process. SLU's experienced advisors are available for free, 1-to-1 virtual pre-admissions sessions to discuss: Academic requirements for specific jobs; special programs at SLU for union members; choosing a CUNY campus and major; applying to and financing a CUNY degree; certificate and non-credit options at CUNY and SLU; transferring previous credits, and more. Each session is free and catered to your specific goals and needs. View the calendar and schedule your CUNY advisement session at CUNYDays.eventbrite.com Can't find a date/time that works for you? Please contact them at: [email protected]  

FEBRUARY WORKSHOPS: The Education Fund is offering several workshops in February. The two session Resume Writing workshop will teach you how to create and submit a resume, the two-session Interview Techniques workshop will help you prepare for the interview. You can refine your testing skills in the six-session Test Taking Strategy Skills Workshop. To register: www.dc37.net/benefits/education.

YOU CAN GET YOUR HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY DIPLOMA. LET DC 37's ED FUND HELP!  

Do you need your High School Equivalency Diploma? You may be eligible for the TASC test waiver in effect through June 30, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The test for the High School Equivalency Diploma is now called the TASC Test. The TASC, Test Assessing Secondary Completion, replaces the GED exam. If you took and passed at least three subtests on the TASC and/or the GED exam you may qualify for the COVID-19 waiver. For more details, email [email protected].

New York State Eviction Moratorium through May 2021

On December 28, 2020, a sweeping eviction ban took effect in New York, giving qualifying tenants fearful of losing their homes during the pandemic, relief through May 1, 2021.

To qualify for protection from eviction, tenants must file a “hardship declaration” explaining the source of their hardship. The eviction ban does not protect tenants who are creating safety or health hazards for other tenants or tenants who do not file a declaration. Nor does the law absolve the financial obligations of renters who file declarations, leaving them subject to eviction after May 1, 2021.

Click on https://bit.ly/3nj8O2u to view a sample “hardship declaration” that you can print and submit to your landlord.  MELS suggests that you send a copy to the landlord by regular first class mail with a “certificate of mailing” (visit your local post office – a certificate of mailing can be obtained for the price of a first class postage stamp). If possible, a copy should also be hand delivered or emailed to the landlord. If you have pending court case, please contact your MELS attorney to have the form served on the landlord’s lawyer.

To speak with a MELS attorney about the eviction ban or any other housing matter or to access your free legal service benefits, please call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected].

MELS TAX WORKSHOP JAN. 27, 5:30 PM

The MELS Tax Tips webinar is Wed. Jan. 27. The union's team of legal experts can help you understand tax preparation for 2020. What's income, what's not? Filing status, standard and itemized deductions, tax credits and other tax prep tips. Join the webinar Jan. 27,  5:30 to 7 p.m. Register at www.dc37mels.com to receive the Meeting ID e-mail before the event. For more information, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected]

COVID-19 RENT RELIEF PROGRAM

The New York State Dept. of Homes and Community Renewal’s COVID Rent Relief Program application period is open from Dec. 18 through Feb. 1, 2021Previous applicants do not need to reapply. More Information

COVID 19 – HCR PROGRAM NOTICES More information

For more information, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected]

FREE LEGAL REPRESENTATION!

Because of COVID-19, many New Yorkers are facing financial hardship and are threatened with eviction. If you have received legal papers from your landlord, the lawyers at MELS are ready to fight for you! To protect your home and your rights, contact MELS at 212-815-1111 for legal representation or to answer your housing-related questions.

MELS has a vast amount of experience representing members in all kinds of eviction cases in all kinds of
housing. Take advantage of this valuable benefit today!

MELS REAL ESTATE WEBINAR NOV. 30

The Municipal Employees Legal Services, MELS, will host a Real Estate Webinar on Monday Nov. 30, 5:30PM to 7:00PM. Housing experts will discuss: Retaining and Working With A Realtor; Seller Concerns; Purchaser Concerns; Financing; Home Inspections, and more.

Please register at www.dc37mels.com. A Meeting ID will be e-mailed 24 hours before the event.
For more information, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected] 

MELS STUDENT LOAN DEBT WEBINAR DEC. 8

MELS will host a student loan debt webinar on Tuesday Dec. 8, 5:30PM to 7:00PM.
- Legal experts will share information covering:
- COVID protections for student borrowers;
- Income Driven Repayment Plans; Loan Consolidation;
- Rehabilitation after Default, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and more. Register at www.dc37mels.com

A Meeting ID will be e-mailed 24 hours before the event. For more information, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [email protected]

MELS FAMILY LAW WEBINAR OCT. 28

MELS, the Municipal Employees Legal Services, will hold a family law webinar for union members Wednesday Oct. 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on ZOOM. MELS lawyers will discuss child support, custody, visitation, adoption and guardianship, neglect, abuse and foster care, and more. Register at: www.dc37mels.com and you will get a meeting ID 24 hours before the event. For more information call MELS at 212.815.1111, or email: [email protected]7.net.

EVICTION MORATORIUM AND HOUSING COURT

New York City courts are in the process of re-opening but evictions remain on hold pursuant to the following Orders, Memoranda and Directives which state:

1. Eviction cases filed on or after March 17, 2020 continue to be suspended;

2. Eviction cases filed before March 17, may proceed and must be presented to a judge before any action is taken; no residential evictions can take place before October 1.

For more information, please visit the DC 37 blog at www.dc37.net. For help with an eviction notice or other legal matters, call the MELS professional staff of attorneys and paralegals at (212) 815-1111 or email: [email protected]

MELS HOUSING SEMINAR SEPT. 29  

MELS invites you to participate in a ZOOM Housing Seminar on Tuesday, September 29, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Join us for an update on tenant rights, the eviction moratorium, re-opening of NYC Housing Court, COVID-19 defenses to non-payment, rent overcharges, preferential rents and the movement to strengthen tenant protection laws in New York State.

To register and get the Zoom link call the MELS Screening Unit at (212) 815-1111 or email: [email protected].

MELS Workshop on End of Life Documents Now on Video

MELS, DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services, is making available a video recording of the August 5th workshop on Wills and End of Life documents.

Almost 600 union members registered for this Zoom workshop but due to power outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias, some were unable to log on. DC 37 is offering members a chance to see a video if the seminar at their convenience– just click the link below.

By viewing this video, members can learn from Stephen Shepard, Supervising Attorney of the Wills Unit at Municipal Employees Legal Services, and Peter Kempner, an attorney at Volunteers of Legal Services, about how to prepare documents such as a will, advance medical directive, and power of attorney.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the importance of end-of-life planning. Over 23,500 NYC residents have died so far, many of whom were elderly or frontline and essential workers. Yet the vast majority did not have a will or health care proxy. Many other New Yorkers were incapacitated or hospitalized and had not designated someone to tend to their affairs through a power of attorney.

Learn how you can create these documents and give yourself and your family some peace of mind. Click the following link to view the recorded MELS End of Life Planning Workshop:

https://volunteersoflegalservice-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/g/personal/pkempner_volsprobono_org/EUz5g05MGwZEhiDzhHwj214BQf6u8wGQ3sX2r0NHNyz0dQ

If you are a frontline or essential worker, you may apply online for free expedited legal services to draft these important documents by clicking the following link:

https://volsprobono.org/projects/frontlineworkers/

If you don’t qualify for expedited frontline and essential worker services, contact the MELS Screening Unit at (212) 815-1111  or email [email protected] to access your free legal service benefit.