By Patrick Donachie
Queens Legal Services is finally moving into a new space to serve its clients after decades of operating in a group of offices that were in disrepair. The new space at 89-00 Sutphin Blvd. in downtown Jamaica will be an office for the organization’s more than 70 attorneys, paralegals, social workers and advocates.
The grand opening of the new offices on the fourth and fifth floor of the building was celebrated last Friday with a ribbon-cutting that included elected officials, community leaders, and staff of the Queens Legal Services, including Director Jennifer Ching.
“Every year, we serve thousands of New Yorkers in crisis — families facing eviction, victims of domestic violence and trafficking, disabled veterans cut off from life-saving income — all of whom deserve a dignified and welcome space,” she said at the opening. “We are so grateful to our local representatives for providing the capital support, which has enabled us to serve our neighbors in a professional setting and with cutting-edge technology that increases our efficiency and efficacy.”
The new Queens Legal Services Community Law Center was funded with $813,000 in combined capital funding from the Queens Borough President’s office as well as the City Council. There will be nine languages spoken on-site as well as instant phone and video interpretation services for any client.
Queens Legal Services is a part of the Legal Services of New York City, which began in 1967 as the Community Action for Legal Services. The organization specializes in protecting its clients from bankruptcy, predatory lending, and affordable housing crises, as well as an array of other issues. The Queens department covers civil rights, disability advocacy, workers’ rights, domestic violence cases, HIV advocacy and the rights of veterans, immigrants, and the LGBT community, among others.
The department’s reach extends beyond Jamaica. Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said attorneys who offer legal services for the organization were an “outstanding partner” with the Flushing community, thanks to monthly workshops about tenants’ rights and services held at his offices.
“By extending critical lifelines of support to struggling individuals and families during their time of greatest need, Queens Legal Services helps create a level playing field for those who find themselves facing the often unfamiliar and daunting territory of the courts,” Koo said.
The legal assistance hotline is open all five weekdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and can be reached at (917) 661-4500.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona