Pro Bono Matters Category Detail

Housing Protection and Real Estate

Victory in Housing Dispute

Fried Frank won a pro bono victory for Mr. S., whose child attends PS 146, in connection with a housing dispute.  After losing cooking gas and suffering intermittent heat interruption in October and having the landlord try to repair it in a hazardous manner, Mr. S withheld rent.   He also complained to the City, which issued a stop-work order because the work was proceeding without required building permits.  We defended Mr. S in an action that the landlord brought for nonpayment of rent.  After filing an Answer with Counterclaims for breach of the warranty of habitability and for an order to repair, we settled the case.  According to the Stipulation of Settlement, our client received a US$600 rent abatement for the past months he withheld, as well as a US$300/month abatement of future rent, until the conditions are repaired with the requisite City permits.

Attorneys working on this matter: Nazar Altun, Erica Sollie and Chelsea Hall.

The IDEAL School

Fried Frank represented The IDEAL School in connection with a contract to acquire 314 West 91st Street in Manhattan, currently the location of the Heschel School. IDEAL is an independent K-8th grade school which specializes in educating children with special needs alongside their peers who do not have special needs. Acquiring 314 West 91st Street will give IDEAL the ability to increase its student population as well as provide additional educational and extracurricular facilities to enhance the students' experience. The transaction is structured as a sale/leaseback pursuant to which Heschel will lease the property from IDEAL until the end of its 2011-2012 school year, at which time it is anticipated Heschel's new building (currently under construction) will be completed. The sale is anticipated to close during April or May 2011.

Attorneys working on this matter: Ross Z. SilverGregg WeinerMichael GuraryAlexis KremenRisa Letowsky and Ewa Bindek.

Pro Bono Victory - NYCHA

In January 2010, Fried Frank achieved a significant victory for Firm client Luz Lopez. Ms. Lopez's daughter attends PS 146 and suffers from severe asthma. They live in an apartment managed by the New York City Housing Authority. When Ms. Lopez came to us, the apartment had a number of serious safety issues that rendered it uninhabitable and exacerbated her daughter's asthma. Over a year ago, the apartment flooded when her kitchen sink backed up, causing extensive water damage throughout the apartment. Workmen removed the sink and surrounding kitchen cabinets, leaving exposed pipes and a large hole in the wall through which rodents entered the apartment. The cabinets were not replaced and our client was given a temporary sink that leaked. At the time of the flood, the fire department had to forcibly enter the apartment, damaging the door. The door was replaced but was never properly secured. In addition, there was water damage in the apartment from an earlier water leak near an electrical outlet that posed a safety concern. There was also mold in the bathroom. Ms. Lopez had lodged complaints for months about the dangerous and unsanitary conditions but NYCHA did not respond.

In consultation with Brooklyn Legal Services, Fried Frank was able to successfully advocate for Ms. Lopez, convincing the NYCHA general counsel to get the apartment completely repaired and give Ms. Lopez and her family a temporary apartment while the repairs were being done. The Lopez family is now back in their apartment, which now has kitchen cabinets and a sink, newly plastered walls, a retiled bathroom and no leaks.  Fried Frank was led to Ms. Lopez through its association with PS 146.  In May 2007, Fried Frank was chosen to be the first law firm to be paired with a New York City Public School, P.S. 146 in East Harlem under a new program organized by Volunteers for Legal Services.

Attorneys working on this matter:
Jennifer L. Colyer

Equal Rights Center

Fried Frank represented The Equal Rights Center in a federal court litigation against Kettler, Inc., a regional multi-family housing developer, for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In particular, the ERC alleged that Kettler was liable for failing to design and construct these properties in accordance with federal law so that they are accessible to the disabled. On August 19, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton approved a final Settlement Agreement and Consent Decree in this matter. Under the Agreement and Decree, in addition to monetary payments, Kettler will make necessary retrofits to over a thousand individual units, and Kettler has entered into a 10-year commitment as a member of the ERC’s Multifamily Housing Resource Program.

South Brooklyn Legal Services (SBLS) 

South Brooklyn Legal Services (SBLS) provides legal advocacy and information in civil cases to low-income people in Brooklyn, New York. Fried Frank has partnered with SBLS in order to provide assistance to victims of predatory lending schemes. Predatory lenders, through various deceptive practices, target vulnerable, elderly, disabled or minority homeowners, offering loans with unfavorable terms and interest rates. These practices frequently result in the loss of the victim's property and serve not only to destroy the financial life of the victim but also undermine their physical, emotional and mental well-being. 

Sub-Prime-Rate Lenders  

In 2003, after falsifying her loan application and inflating her income, a notorious sub-prime-rate lender provided an indigent, elderly widow in Corona, Queens with a home-repair loan with extremely unfavorable terms, inflated closing costs and fees and installment payments that exceeded her monthly income by over $2,000. Fried Frank provided legal assistance in this matter in order to resolve foreclosure proceedings brought against her by this unscrupulous lender.

Not-For-Profit Consumer Credit Counseling Company 

After seeking help at a not-for-profit consumer credit counseling company, Mrs. L, was induced into taking three consecutive mortgages on her home within five months with extremely excessive interest rates. As a result of Fried Frank's devotion of considerable time and effort, the matter reached a favorable settlement. 

Attorneys working on this matter:
Jennifer L. Colyer

The Landlord Tenant Resource Center of Washington DC 

The Landlord Tenant Resource Center of Washington DC assists pro se litigants in DC's Landlord/Tenant Court, addressing a gap in representation in which 99% of tenants and 14% of landlords are without counsel. Staffed by attorneys and legal assistants from participating Washington, DC area law firms, the Center provides legal information necessary for litigants to represent themselves or make referrals for pro bono representation in qualified cases. Members of the Firm's Washington, DC office are active participants in the Center's ongoing efforts.

1327 Kenyon Street Cooperative 

Since 1996, the Firm's Washington, DC office has represented the 1327 Kenyon Street Cooperative, a tenant-sponsored, affordable, limited-equity cooperative providing low-income housing to residents of the Columbia Heights neighborhood.  Most recently the Firm provided assistance in the construction and financing-for-renovation of the Cooperative's 17-unit apartment building. The renovation was successfully financed in May, 2003.

The Eldridge Street Project  

The Eldridge Street Project is dedicated to the restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, once one of the busiest synagogues on the Lower East Side. The synagogue, a historical landmark, dates back to the late 1880s but closed its door in the 1950s due to waning membership.  The Project's goal is to "preserve the Eldridge Street Synagogue and interpret it with cultural and educational programs for a diverse audience." Fried Frank has taken a special interest in the Project, and represents the Project in its efforts. 

Attorneys working on this matter:
Jonathan L. Mechanic and Lee S. Parks

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