Rochelle Park, N.J. (March 29, 2022) – The legal rights of victims of domestic violence recently received a major boost from Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who secured thousands of dollars in federal funding for Center for Hope and Safety’s (CHS) Legal Services Program (LSP).
“As part of the bipartisan government spending bill, I was proud to fight for federal resources that will bolster vital programs offered by organizations across our state,” said Sen. Booker. “The Center for Hope and Safety provides critically-needed free legal services to survivors of domestic violence, and this funding will allow the Center to continue its essential operations, especially as domestic violence rates increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As the only full-service, non-profit domestic violence agency in Bergen County, CHS provides free legal services from three full-time attorneys specializing in DV and Family Law, including advice, counsel and representation, to victims of domestic violence who could not otherwise afford an attorney. State funding for the program was cut by more than 40% last year, putting CHS’ LSP, the only program of its kind embedded into a non-profit agency, in jeopardy, just as the need for its services is increasing.
“We have seen a tragic rise in the incidence of domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis. The need for legal emancipation from abusers through the court system can be a matter of life and death for the people we serve,” said CHS Executive Director Julye Myner. “We are deeply grateful to Senator Booker for recognizing that need, and for his steadfast support of our mission to help victims of domestic violence not only survive, but to thrive.”
Established in 2016, CHS’ LSP provides a broad array of free legal counsel and advice in matters including temporary and final restraining orders, divorce, child custody and visitation, and immigration matters, ensuring access to legal representation for those who previously would not have been able to afford an attorney. Most victims served by CHS have no assets, no income, or are categorized as extremely low-wage earners (30%/less of median income). Many rely on welfare and/or food stamps; some receive minimal support from unemployment, child support or Social Security. Working through the court system can be a daunting task for anyone, but it can be terrifying for a DV victim who is fearful, has low self-esteem, and doesn’t know his/her rights.
The LSP saw an unprecedented 143% rise in cases in 2019, and, in 2021, served 314 clients on 508 legal matters, with 145 clients receiving representation, and 290 receiving advice and counsel. That number is expected to rise exponentially in 2022, as NJ’s courts reopen and more people suffering from DV seek emancipation from abusers. CHS provided shelter to 222 adults and children in 2021, the highest number of people seeking refuge from DV in the agency’s history.
For immediate access to crisis intervention, counseling and referrals including enrollment in our safe house for you or someone you know call: (201) 944-9600 or visit: https://www.hopeandsafetynj.org/.
About Center for Hope and Safety
Center for Hope and Safety is Bergen County’s only not-for-profit agency dedicated to helping adults and children rebuild their lives beyond domestic violence. Since 1976, Center for Hope and Safety has been providing a safe haven and critical support services for domestic violence survivors and their children throughout Bergen County. Our mission is to assist adults and children who are victims of domestic violence, including emotional, economic, sexual and physical abuse. We offer a full spectrum of free services designed to address and support emotional, physical and financial healing, including a legal services program to provide free legal representation, advice and counsel on restraining orders, appeals and emergent custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and other domestic violence family law matters. Our free, confidential hotline answers more than 4,200 calls a year and operates 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For immediate access to crisis intervention, counseling and referrals including enrollment in our safe house call (201) 944-9600 or visit: https://www.hopeandsafetynj.org/.