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Housing Works and HIV Law Project Merge

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Oct 16, 2013
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  (Source:HIV Law Project)

In early October the AIDS Service Organizations Housing Works and HIV Law Project officially announced their mega merger. With the addition of five legal professionals, the combined entity is now the largest provider of legal services for people living with HIV/AIDS in New York.

"I’m thrilled that HIV Law Project has found a new home in the Housing Works family", said Eric Longo, former Board Chair of HIV Law Project. "Thanks to this transaction/ merger, Housing Works will be able to continue serving the legal needs of many underserved and disenfranchised clients in New York City."

The two organizations have an almost 20-year history of working together and share a common commitment to serving underserved populations, including women and their families, people of color, undocumented and recent immigrants, members of the LGBT community and the homeless.

Housing Works’ legal department has taken the lead in fighting for clients wrestling with homelessness and HIV/AIDS, among other areas. Its recent focus includes combating landlords and brokers who systematically practice "source of income" discrimination in housing. The HIV Law Project has provided groundbreaking, client-focused legal services to affected communities in New York City since 1989.

Together, they will help Housing Works to secure and maintain affordable housing for clients, ensure basic human rights, and combat discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS.

The merger will also provide expanded services: HIV Law Project has dedicated staff focused on immigration law, which will allow Housing Works to offer direct representation on immigration matters.

Senior Staff Attorney Armen H. Merjian, one of the nation’s top HIV/AIDS and civil rights attorneys, will remain in his role at Housing Works and also serve as executive director for HIV Law Project.

"I have worked with the HIV Law Project for decades," said Merjian, "and I’m excited to bring their passion and expertise -- so compatible with our own -- into the Housing Works family."

Robert F. Bacigalupi, the former governmental benefits coordinator at Legal Services of New York and former President of LeGAL, will assist Merjian in supervising the new unit. This includes 12 employees: eight lawyers, two paralegals and two support staff. A leader in HIV/AIDS legal and advocacy services, HIV Law Project will retain its name and independent board of directors.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/

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