The 9th Annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day was held on Saturday April 9, 2016. This was the eighth year that Anne Arundel County attorneys volunteered to provide legal assistance to those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. This year, 15 attorneys provided 35 clients with legal advice on 41 different issues ranging from criminal records to wills. Criminal records can be a barrier to housing and employment making criminal records expungement the number one issue. This year 8 people could be helped with clearing up their criminal records. The Office of the Public Defender and Legal Aid were able to file more than 25 petitions for expungement. More statistics can be found here.
Many of the attorneys have volunteered for Homeless Day before, William Cooke and Jessica Wisner of the Office of the Public Defender; Anita Bailey, Kathleen Hughes, Lisa Sarro and Amy Siegel of Legal Aid; and Michelle Moodispaw, Gene Brennan and Kari Fawcett, all private practitioners. This year we welcomed some new volunteers: Aimee West who clerked in Anne Arundel County and now practices in Prince Frederick; Adam McCormick another former law clerk and now with Lessans, Praley and McCormick; Lauren Wallace of the YWCA Domestic Violence Program
and vice chair of the Local Pro Bono Committee; Sarone Solomon who is a Legal Aid attorney working for the new Maryland Courts’ Self Help Center; Jonathon Church, Anne Arundel County Deputy State’s Attorney; and Nickola Sybblis who volunteers in the Lawyer in the Library program.
Matthew Stubenberg of MVLS, who coordinated the the expungement clinic held at the Anne Arundel County Glen Burnie Regional Library in February, was on hand to help with expungement questions and Nasim Chatha of MVLS brought information for guests about MVLS services.
Joan Bellistri, Director of the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, coordinates Homeless Day Legal Services and is on hand to help attorneys locate appropriate resources and referrals.
Overall, the number of people seeking legal assistance was much lower than in previous years. It could be attributed to the new location of the event, the location of legal services in the building and the weather – snow in April! However, as Lisa Sarro, of Legal Aid put it, “in terms of tangible results for clients, this was the best.” Without the pressure of other clients waiting attorneys could spend more time with each client. Lisa stayed past the 4:00 end time when just about all other providers had packed up and left to help the last guest of the day with expungements. The guest remarked that she had been trying to get help everywhere and didn’t really expect to get that help that she needed but was happy to say that she did.