July/August 2012
bttopCleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program
Issue No. 20
Ohio Collateral Sanctions Bill passed into law




On June 25, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law SB 337, a bill designed to reduce employment barriers for those with criminal backgrounds.  The law reforms collateral sanctions and aids reintegration by:

  • Reducing the frequency of driver's license suspensions for non-driving offenses, lack of a valid license often being a critical barrier to maintaining employment;
  • Allowing former offenders to petition the courts for Certificates of Qualification for Employment while shielding employers from liability for negligence when they hire ex-offenders based on the certificates - this option gives greater discretion to licensing boards and employers to consider individuals on a case-by-case basis, with exceptions for crimes of "moral turpitude" and felonies that have a direct bearing on the worker's fitness for duty;
  • Excluding most juvenile proceedings and adjudications from criminal records checks;
  • Expanding sealing eligibility to one felony and one misdemeanor as well as two misdemeanors that occurred in separate convictions;
  • Making use or possession of drug paraphernalia for marijuana a minor misdemeanor;
  • Setting forth guidelines on clearing ex-offenders' criminal record trail once their record has been pardoned by the Governor;
  • Changing the definition of indigent so that child support orders are based on individuals' ability to pay and not their income level prior to incarceration;
  • Eliminating automatic disqualification for state-issued occupational licenses in cosmetology and construction; and
  • Reducing the bar against obtaining a security guard license for ex-offenders from 20 years to three.

Section RC 2953.25 of the law creates the concept of "limited relief," which allows individuals to petition to remove certain collateral sanctions by the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. After notifying the prosecutor and reviewing the petition, the Department will send those petitions it deems worthy to the sentencing court for a final determination.  The court may grant the petition if in its discretion doing so would "materially assist the individual in obtaining employment, education, housing, public benefits, or occupational licensing," that the individual needs that in order to "live a law-abiding life," and doing so wouldn't create an "unreasonable risk to the safety of the public or any individual."

The new law will take effect Sept. 28, 2012.

For the legislative summary of the bill, click here (PDF); full text here.
References: Ohio Call & Post; analysis by attorney Russ Bensing


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Expanded Benefit Outreach Program at Cleveland Foodbank


The Cleveland Foodbank recently announced a new benefit outreach program to make the application process quick and easy for over 20 programs including SNAP (food stamps), prescription benefits, child care vouchers, WIC, medical coverage, and other assistance programs.  The Foodbank has a team of Benefit Counselors who can assist people through the application process over the phone and streamlining the application process to help eliminate waiting in long lines at multiple places simply to apply for benefits.  The Foodbank also has Outreach Counselors that are located throughout the Foodbank's six county service areas (Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, Ashland, and Richland counties) who can help people apply face-to-face.  Applicants can call the Benefit Helpline at (216) 738-2067 any time MF from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to determine their eligibility, find helpful resources in their community, and apply for assistance all in one call.

Eligibility is based on monthly income and expenses including medical, rent, and utilities.  If any individual makes less than $1,200 per month he or she may be eligible for assistance.  This assistance is available for seniors, students, families, full and part-time workers, the unemployed, and all individuals 18 years of age or older who are struggling to make ends meet.

Ways you can help your clients and our community members and neighbors apply for benefits:

  1. You can become a trained Benefit Counselor through the Ohio Benefit Bank. This will allow you to complete applications for 20 programs on-site while your clients are meeting with you about their other needs.
  2. You can refer your clients to the Foodbank and they will follow up and complete a Benefit Application. You can fill out the online referral form from the Foodbank's website here.

Please encourage your clients to call or visit the Foodbank for a face-to-face application and eligibility screen.  For more information, please contact Jamie Sullivan, SNAP Outreach Program Manager for the Cleveland Foodbank, at (216) 738-2265 x2104 or by email at jsullivan@clevelandfoodbank.org.


Upcoming clinics & events


Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Clinics

All clinics are by appointment only.  Please remind clients to bring all relevant paperwork with them.

Pro Se Child Support Clinic

Aug. 23, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

This clinic focuses on child support issues.  Those attending will be counseled by volunteer attorneys and provided with the tools to handle child support issues on their own. 


Pro Se Child Support Clinic

Aug. 30, 4:00-6:00 p.m. 

This clinic focuses on child support issues.  Those attending will be counseled by volunteer attorneys and provided with the tools to handle child support issues on their own.


Education Law Clinic

Sept. 5, 4:00-6:00 p.m. 

This clinic focuses on children and access to education.  Attorneys will provide advice and brief counsel for parents facing difficulties with the education law process.


El Centro Lorain

Sept. 11, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
A first-come, first-served free advice clinic for low-income individuals with civil legal issues.


Spanish American Committee
Sept. 15, 9:45-11:45 a.m.
A first-come, first-served free advice clinic for low-income individuals with civil legal issues.


West Side Catholic Center
Sept. 29, 9:45-11:45 a.m.
A first-come, first-served free advice clinic for low-income individuals with civil legal issues.


Fatima Family Center
Oct. 20, 9:45-11:45 a.m.
A first-come, first-served free advice clinic for low-income individuals with civil legal issues.
For a full calendar of Legal Aid brief advice/intake clinics, please visit the Legal Aid website at www.lasclev.org

Cleveland Lawyers' Initiative on Reentry (CLIR)
Brief Advice/Intake Clinics

North Star Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Second Wednesday of the month
Periodic training sessions for new volunteers TBA - call Brian Lamb at (216) 566-5590 for more information.
In the News 


U.S. Senators Introduce New Legislation to Help Homeless Families Access Child Care

On Aug. 2, Washington RealEstateRama reported that U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN), and John Kerry (D-MA) announced the introduction of the Improving Access to Child Care for Homeless Families Act of 2012, new legislation which aims to address the difficulties homeless families face in accessing reliable child care. In order to increase homeless families' access to child care, this legislation would require states to describe in their state child care plan how they will meet the needs of homeless families, including through dissemination of information about child care to homeless parents. The legislation also prioritizes homeless children for access to child care, and creates a pilot program for states interested in pursuing a goal of increasing access to and continuity of care for homeless children, in order to identify best practices.  "Homeless families struggle to access the most basic essentials - housing, stable jobs, and child care," said Sen. Franken. "This legislation would help these struggling families find safe and quality child care which will in turn give parents a better chance to find a job and housing so they can get back on their feet."

Click here for full article, or here for more about the bill.

Ohio Counties get $1.81M to Help Homeless Veterans

On July 22 the Dayton Daily News reported that grants totaling $1.81 million have been awarded to six Ohio counties to help prevent and end homelessness among veterans and their families. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced the grants for Hamilton, Cuyahoga, Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties. Secretary Eric Shinseki says the grants will serve about 635 homeless and at-risk veteran families. Veterans Affairs is awarding the grants to private nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives providing services to very low-income veteran families who are living in, or transitioning to, permanent housing. The organizations will use the grants to provide outreach, case management and help in obtaining VA benefits and other public benefits. Shinseki says community-based groups can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.
Click here for full article, or here for Department of Defense news release.

Laws Targeting Homeless Imperil Programs That Feed Them Outdoors
NPR (July 6) and Philly.com (July 13) reported that a growing number of cities want to tackle the problem of homelessness by outlawing what are known as "acts of daily living" - sleeping, eating and panhandling in public.  In Philadelphia, U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the new city ordinance banning the serving of food in public parks until the judge files a formal written opinion on its constitutionality. When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced the ban on serving food in public parks last March, he said moving such services indoors was part of an effort to raise standards for the homeless by making it easier to connect homeless people with other supportive services.  Advocates for the homeless, however, say that the rules, and a growing number of ordinances against loitering, panhandling and camping, don't just marginalize the homeless but redirects focus off of solutions and on more restrictions.  Yohn's ruling made it clear that his intention is to block enforcement for at least a year to give the city and representatives of various religious and secular homeless service providers the chance to create a long-term solution that would end distributing food to the homeless in public.
In This Issue
Outreach Program at the Foodbank
Upcoming clinics & events
In the News
New Report Procedure
Pro Bono Week 2012




All report forms from brief advice and intake sessions at the shelters may now be sent directly to CMBA staffmember Kris Wisnieski, who will be handling record-keeping for CHLAP.


You may email forms to Kris at KWisnieski@clemetrobar.org, or mail the forms to CHLAP, Attn: Kris Wisnieski / Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association / 1301 E. 9th St., 2nd Level / Cleveland, OH 44114.  Please call (216) 696-3525 with any questions.

Save the date:


gavel1Celebrate Pro Bono Week Oct. 21-27!  Pro Bono Week is a coordinated national effort to meet the ever-growing needs of this country's most vulnerable citizens by encouraging and supporting local efforts to expand the delivery of pro bono legal services, and by showcasing the great difference that pro bono lawyers make to the nation, its system of justice, its communities and to the clients they serve.


Look for a calendar of Pro Bono Week events in the next newsletter, at www.clemetrobar.org and at www.lasclev.org coming soon!

Archived CHLAP Newsletters

Issue 19 - May/June 2012

Issue 18 - April 2012

Issue 17 - February/March 2012

Issue 16 - January 2012

Issue 15 - December 2011

Issue 14 - November 2011

Issue 13 - October 2011

Issue 12 - September 2011
Issue 11 - August 2011
Issue 10 - June/July 2011
Issue 9 - May 2011
Issue 8 - April 2011
Issue 7 - March 2011
Issue 6 - February 2011
Issue 5 - January 2011
Issue 4 - December 2010
Issue 3 - November 2010
Issue 2 - October 2010
Issue 1 - September 2010 

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Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program
This partnership between the CMBA and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless aims to serve those in the community in need of help but least able to access legal assistance. Volunteer lawyers staff regularly scheduled sessions at many locations throughout Cleveland, including homeless shelters, to provide legal advice and assistance to homeless or at-risk individuals. Attorneys volunteer at varying levels of commitment, from helping with intake interviews and providing brief advice to accepting referrals for direct extended representation.

Visit CHLAP online - click here for the latest updates, volunteer materials, and other information.

A program of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association  

1301 East 9th Street, Second Level - Cleveland, OH 44114

Tel.: 216.696.3525, Web: www.clemetrobar.org  


CHLAP Newsletter author:

Jessica Paine, Assistant Director of Community Programs & Information

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association 

Tel.: 216.696.3525, Email: jpaine@clemetrobar.org 

We welcome your comments and suggestions!