May 12, 2016
May is Older Americans Month, so LAAC reached out to one of our Senior Legal Services Provider members, Senior Citizens Legal Services (SCLS) to give us the scoop on their latest work in the community.
In California, 33 legal services organizations specifically provide services to seniors. One of these providers, SCLS is dedicated to assisting seniors who are poor, disadvantaged or disabled who would not otherwise have access to the justice system. SCLS focuses on defending the rights of seniors to live in peace and comfort, and to enjoy decent housing, quality health care, financial security, social integration, security of their persons and property, and freedom from abuse or discrimination.
Elder abuse prevention is a key area of focus for SCLS. Learn more about how SCLS helps older Californians facing abuse.
SCLS combines quality individualized legal services, outreach presentations & trainings, how-to self-representation packets, and training for the next generation of senior advocates in our community.
Staff focus on three general legal areas: Housing, Public Benefits, and Elder Abuse prevention.
Work in housing includes return of security deposits, housing discrimination, eviction defense, reasonable accommodations and defense of mobile home park residents from attempts to convert parks to condominiums. One memorable housing case involved an attempt to double the mobile home space rent in a park. The case lasted over eight years, with hundreds of SCLS hours spend protecting residents’ housing rights, and was only resolved after the California Supreme Court denied a request for hearing.
Maintaining a “livable” income and benefits is necessary for senior citizens to thrive. Public Benefits work includes various over payments
and denials of benefits. SCLS works with clients to allow them to continue receiving benefits mainly from Medi-Cal, SSI, as well as Social Security.
Elder Abuse Prevention protects seniors from abuse, overreaching, and scams. SCLS works to help seniors to keep control of their own lives. SCLS helps seniors establish Power of Attorneys and Advanced Health Care Directives, file restraining orders against abusers, and otherwise help seniors recover from scams and overreaching.
SCLS recently had an elder abuse case where a client’s son moved in with her without her consent and proceeded to abuse her and harass her neighbors. The client was facing eviction for her son’s actions and there was nothing she could do to stop his behavior. SCLS represented her in an elder abuse restraining order and succeeded in both removing her abusive son from her home and protecting her housing.
SCLS founders recognized that the elderly were unable to obtain legal aid services that addressed their unique problems. Senior community activists believed that the elderly needed and deserved a program designed to meet their special needs. For 40+ years, SCLS has worked to develop expertise in legal problems that relate to aging, and they plan to continue helping for a long time. Come help support their mission. On Friday, August 26, 2016 SCLS will be holding a fundraising golf tournament in Santa Cruz. SCLS would love for you to come down to the coast with your golf clubs and meet the team for a great cause!
Organizations mentioned/involved: Senior Citizens Legal Services (SCLS)