By Sam Bojarski

HAUP employees at a mask distribution earlier this year. Photo by Garry Pierre-Pierre

New York City’s immigrant affairs agency announced more than $16 million in awards for organizations to provide legal assistance to 3.1 million immigrants. Long-time community nonprofit Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP) joins 20 other community-based organizations citywide that received awards.

“Our funding is very limited when it comes to immigration services, and the need is never enough,” said Elsie Saint Louis, executive director of HAUP, in an interview. “This is really a great resource, it’s going to be adding to our services, allowing us to serve more people, allowing us to provide more days of services for immigration.” 

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) said Sept. 30 it will provide the grants through its ActionNYC immigration help program, according to a MOIA press release. The funds will be disbursed over the next two-and-a-half years for recipients to provide free legal services to immigrants in underserved communities.

“We have made the largest local investment in immigration legal services in the nation, because we know keeping families together and helping immigrant New Yorkers thrive makes us stronger as a city,” said MOIA Commissioner Bitta Mostofi.

HAUP will receive $175,000 per year to fund staffing, particularly to expand legal services for the Brooklyn community, Saint Louis said. The first disbursement will be made in January 2021.The organization already hires both attorneys and community liaisons to serve immigrants. 

A 43-year-old fixture in New York City’s Haitian community, HAUP has offices in central Brooklyn, at 1750 Nostrand Avenue, and southeast Queens at 197 Hillside Ave. The majority of its clients come from Haiti and other Caribbean nations and live in mixed immigration status households, Saint Louis said in a press release.  

In addition to its existing legal service offerings, HAUP has helped provide direct financial assistance to immigrants this year. The nonprofit coordinated the distribution of $75,000 in relief funding to undocumented immigrants who lost income due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The money represented a portion of the $20 million assistance fund donated by the Open Society Foundation to assist undocumented immigrants in New York City.

In April, HAUP was one of 164 groups from across the country that signed a petition demanding the Trump administration halt deportations to Haiti amid the pandemic.  

MOIA first issued a request for proposals for ActionNYC funding in November 2019, the agency said. The ActionNYC awards will further ensure community organizations and legal service providers with linguistically competent staff can serve community members at trusted sites. Recipient organizations hail from all five boroughs.

In addition to HAUP, other groups that serve a large Haitian population include CAMBA Legal Services, Caribbean Women’s Health Association and Catholic Charities Community Services.

 “At a time when immigrant families continue to face cruel, xenophobic threats by the Trump Administration, New York City continues to stand with our immigrant communities,” Mostofi said.

Here is the complete list of organizations MOIA selected to receive funding: 

African Communities Together (ACT)

African Services Committee (ASC)

Arab American Association of New York (AAANY)

BronxWorks, Inc.

CAMBA Legal Services, Inc.

Caribbean Women’s Health Association (CWHA)

Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS)

Chhaya Community Development Corporation (Chhaya CDC)

Chinese American Planning Council (CPC)

Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP)

Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC)

Jacob A Riis Neighborhood Settlement

Little Sisters of the Assumption (LSA)

Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York (LSSNY)

Make the Road New York (MRNY)

MinKwon Center for Community Action

New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC)

SCO Family Services/Center for Family Life (CFL)

Sunnyside Communities (SCS)

The Door

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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