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2000 January - February

Advocates' Efforts to Battle Landlords' Minimum-Income Requirements

An Overview

By Adam Culbreath

Many landlords use minimum-income requirements to decide which tenants to accept. However, income policies are not valid predictors of whether a tenant can pay the rent and are often simply a way to exclude low-income families. Advocates have used state civil rights laws and the federal Fair Housing Act to combat landlords' minimum-income requirements.

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"No Section 8" Policies

Combating Landlords' Resistance to Renting to Section 8 Recipients

By Adam Culbreath & James Wilkinson

Families receiving Section 8 subsidies may encounter landlords who refuse to rent to them. Advocates can use state statutes, case law prohibiting discrimination based on source of income, and the federal Fair Housing Act to protect Section 8 recipients. In Minnesota, through public education, legislative activity, and litigation, advocates applied a multifaceted approach to combat discrimination against recipients of housing subsidies.

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Confronting the Employment Barriers of Criminal Records

Effective Legal and Practical Strategies

By Debbie A. Mukamal

The stiffest barriers faced by ex-offenders in their struggle to reintegrate into society are those which keep them from securing employment. Bias and stigma, lack of job skills and employment history, legal restrictions, and competition from other sources of labor contribute to the difficulty ex-offenders face in finding work. Advocates should consider both legal and practical strategies to mitigate the adverse consequences of their clients' conviction histories and increase their prospect of complete reintegration.

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Welfare Reform and Women with Felony Drug Convictions

Research Results and Policy Recommendations

By Amy E. Hirsch

Federal welfare law provides that, unless a state affirmatively passes legislation to the contrary, anyone with a felony drug conviction after August 22, 1996, is permanently barred from receiving cash assistance and food stamps. Results of interviews with women convicted of felonies and with the staff of agencies dealing with criminal justice, drug treatment, and public health support the recommendation that women in recovery from addiction should be allowed access to subsistence benefits and that the ban on benefits should be eliminated.

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Legal Services Leadership on Job Development

The San Francisco Experience

By Tanya Neiman

Legal services lawyers can help low-income people move out of poverty by leading the legal sector to employ clients moving from welfare to work. Advocates can connect legal employers with community-based job-development and -training agencies. A job-development, -training, and -retention program, the Legal Employment Action Program in San Francisco taps the legal sector as an employer capable of offering life-sustaining jobs to recipients desperate to move from welfare to work.

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Jobs Strategies in the Era of Welfare Reform

A Community-Based Model of Legal Services

By Greg Volz & Brad Caftel

Sector employment intervention, a systemic approach to community economic development, seeks to connect residents of poor communities to employment opportunities, livable wages and benefits, good working conditions, and advancement opportunities. The experience of the local legal services provider in Chester, Pennsylvania, illustrates the effectiveness of sector employment intervention. There the legal services provider used it to encourage collaborative approaches for the promotion of training and employment opportunities for low-income residents.

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An Employment Law Agenda

A Road Map for Legal Services Advocates

By Sharon M. Dietrich, Catherine Ruckelshaus, Jim Williams, Rick McHugh, Rachel Paster & Michele Palter

An employment law practice allows legal services advocates to address directly the needs of clients who want to work, are working, or have lost their jobs. Various federal, state, and local laws can help dismantle barriers, such as discrimination, domestic violence, disability, and "contingent worker" status, which prevent many low-income people from fully competing and participating in the workplace. Various legal tools and strategies protect the employment rights of welfare recipients in work programs, as well as those of the working poor. Those tools range from the wage and hour requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers' compensation, Occupational Safety and Health Act protections to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which can help clients keep their jobs in case of conflict between work and family.

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Adult and Dislocated Worker Job Training Provisions of Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998

Part 1—Federal, State, and Local Work-Force Investment System

By Greg Bass

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which established a federally funded "work-force investment system" mandating a "one-stop" delivery of a range of employment services, promises employment opportunities for welfare recipients and other low-income persons. By influencing the creation of the local and state boards and by participating in the development of state and local five-year work-force investment plans, advocates can help shape the work-force investment systems.

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The Importance of Issues at the Intersection of Housing and Welfare Reform for Legal Services Work

By Barbara Sard

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 create new imperatives for legal services and intersect in ways requiring providers to broaden the focus of welfare rule enforcement to include policy advocacy. As benefits expire and families face welfare-to-work obligations, legal services advocates should consider the new housing law and the advocacy opportunities it opens on rent policies in federally assisted housing programs.

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A High Dive into a Water Glass? Serving the "Hard to Serve" in Welfare-to-Work

By John Bouman

While welfare reform's mandatory time limits have contributed to unprecedented drops in this country's welfare rolls, we should not assume that applying work-first strategies to recipients who are the hardest to serve will lead to self-sufficiency. Advocates, human service agencies, and policymakers must study why many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families have difficulty securing gainful employment and must craft strategies to address what is learned about them.

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