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Welcome to the 2020 PLAN Virtual Statewide Conference

All workshops will be presented virtually by webinar on the Zoom platform. You must register for individual workshop webinars by clicking the Register for the Webinar button appearing in the workshop description and completing the registration information to be admitted into the webinar.

Pennsylvania CLE credits will be available to attorneys who actively participate in webinars and indicate their participation through polls displayed periodically during the webinars.

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1.5 Substantive Credits [clear filter]
Thursday, September 17
 

10:00am EDT

Representing Nursing Home Residents in Involuntary Nursing Home Discharges and COVID-related Transfers
Involuntary discharges are one of the most common legal problems faced by nursing home residents. Nursing facilities initiate these discharges when residents have behavioral health issues they find difficult to address, when payment disputes arise, and sometimes simply because they would rather have residents with a better-paying source of coverage.

And it's not uncommon for nursing facilities to try to discharge these residents to homeless shelters, motels or other places where their care needs will not be met. Fortunately, strong legal protections are available to prevent these outcomes.

Join us to learn how to represent these very vulnerable clients and about partnering with the long term care ombudsman program. We will also discuss transfers related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the protections available to nursing home residents in these situations.

Speakers
PW

Pamela Walz

Supervising Attorney, Community Legal Services
Pamela Walz is a Supervising Attorney in the Health and Independence Unit at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS), where she represents low-income older adults and younger adults with disabilities in matters involving access to publicly funded long term services and supports... Read More →


Thursday September 17, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .

2:00pm EDT

How to Use Chapter 13 to Help Tenants and Homeowners
You can do things in Chapter 13 you cannot do in the real world. A review is provided of all the options available to keep your clients in their housing, whether they rent or are buying.

In the fast changing landscape of CARES Funding/Rental Assistance/Foreclosure moratorium etc., bankruptcy is probably the best venue to protect consumer rights.

Speakers
AM

Alfonso Madrid

Senior Staff Attorney, Community Legal Services
Alfonso Madrid is a Senior Staff Attorney at Community Legal Services in the Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit, where he focuses his practice on representing low-income homeowners in a variety of home ownership issues, including mortgage foreclosure, enforcement of installment... Read More →
avatar for Catherine Martin

Catherine Martin

Director of Advocacy, Neighborhood Legal Services
Catherine T. Martin has been a Managing Attorney in the central Pittsburgh office of Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) since 1995. At all times she has maintained an active legal practice in Consumer law, focusing on foreclosure issues and bankruptcy law. In 2018, Catherine was appointed... Read More →
avatar for Eileen Yacknin

Eileen Yacknin

Director of Litigation, Neighborhood Legal Services
Eileen Yacknin works at Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS), her first and only job, arriving straight from Boston College Law School in 1977, before most of you were born. For several years and currently, she serves as NLS’s Litigation Director. For nearly 25 years, she served as... Read More →



Thursday September 17, 2020 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Zoom .
 
Friday, September 18
 

2:00pm EDT

Immigrant Access to Public Benefits
This workshop will provide an overview of immigrant eligibility for major public benefits programs and will provide the latest updates on recent proposals to restrict immigrant access to public benefits, including recent changes to public charge and sponsor deeming policies.

Speakers
MP

Maripat Pileggi

Staff Attorney, Community Legal Services
Maripat Pileggi joined Community Legal Services Inc. in 2007 as a staff attorney in the Health and Independence Unit. She works with clients to resolve legal problems that arise in many different government benefit programs run by the Social Security Administration, Department of... Read More →



Friday September 18, 2020 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Zoom .
 
Monday, September 21
 

10:00am EDT

Eviction Diversion Programs
Communities across Pennsylvania are exploring third-party mediation programs as part of a broader eviction prevention strategies. Some of these programs elsewhere in the country have been very successful in preserving the tenancy, resolving habitability issues and repairing a strained landlord-tenant relationship.

This workshop will cover the elements of a successful diversion program in Lansing, Michigan; the steps that advocates took to create a mandatory pre-filing diversion program in Philadelphia; and initial results of a voluntary pre-filing diversion program in Allegheny County.

Speakers
GS

Gale Schwartz

Associate Director of Policy & Strategic Initiatives, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
Gale Schwartz is the Associate Director of Policy & Strategic Initiatives at the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania. Joining the Housing Alliance in 2013, she primarily works with the diverse membership of the Housing Alliance to address pressing housing and community problems across... Read More →
avatar for Megan Stanley

Megan Stanley

Executive Director, Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations
Megan Stanley serves as the Executive Director for the City of Pittsburgh's Commission on Human Relations. She joined the Commission in 2018 with over 10 years of progressive experience in social policy and housing, working specifically with vulnerable populations. Prior to working... Read More →
RG

Rachel Garland

Managing Attorney, Housing Unit, Community Legal Services
Rachel Garland began her career at Community Legal Services as an Equal Justice Works fellow in 2008. She is currently serving as the Managing Attorney of the Housing Unit.
ER

Elizabeth Rios

Managing Attorney, Michigan Advocacy Program, LSSCM
Liza is the Managing Attorney for the Lansing Office of Legal Services of South Central Michigan and has been with the program for 10 years, specializing in housing law. Liza graduated from The University of Michigan with a BA in political science in 2001 and received her J.D. from... Read More →


Monday September 21, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Tuesday, September 22
 

10:00am EDT

Bankruptcy Boot-Camp: Introduction to the Concepts and the Practice of Consumer Bankruptcy
Transform yourself from a bankruptcyphobe into a bankruptcy guru in 90 minutes!

Bankryptcy is a useful and underutilized tool for low income clients. There's a reason rich people and businesses file bankruptcy - it can improve their financial situation. That is true for legal services clients too.

Find out when bankruptcy can help your clients, and how you can start handling bankruptcy cases.

Speakers
AD

Adam DiBuo

Neighborhood Legal Services
avatar for Catherine Martin

Catherine Martin

Director of Advocacy, Neighborhood Legal Services
Catherine T. Martin has been a Managing Attorney in the central Pittsburgh office of Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) since 1995. At all times she has maintained an active legal practice in Consumer law, focusing on foreclosure issues and bankruptcy law. In 2018, Catherine was appointed... Read More →
avatar for Eileen Yacknin

Eileen Yacknin

Director of Litigation, Neighborhood Legal Services
Eileen Yacknin works at Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS), her first and only job, arriving straight from Boston College Law School in 1977, before most of you were born. For several years and currently, she serves as NLS’s Litigation Director. For nearly 25 years, she served as... Read More →



Tuesday September 22, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Thursday, September 24
 

10:00am EDT

Navigating Disability Benefits for Veterans: Initial Application Through Appeals
Benefits available to veterans from VA can be extremely helpful. However, the process of applying for, and appealing denials of, these benefits, is a daunting administrative process. During this training, we will address how to navigate VA processes, elements of a claim, medical evidence, and best, practical strategies to advocate for and represent veterans.

Speakers
avatar for Richard Prebil

Richard Prebil

Staff Attorney, Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Richard Prebil is a Staff Attorney in (and helped establish) the Veterans Advocacy Project (VAP) at Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (LASP). VAP, through a client-centered, culturally-competent, dignity-focused, trauma-informed legal practice, provides specialized assistance... Read More →



Thursday September 24, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Friday, September 25
 

2:00pm EDT

Low Income Housing Tax Credits 101 for Housing Advocates
The Low Income Housing Tax credit is the primary tool used to facilitate the development and preservation of affordable housing. It is administered jointly by the IRS and in PA, the PA Housing Finance Agency.

This session will explain the basics of LIHTC, and what is important for legal services staff and their client to know.

Speakers
MS

Mark Schwartz

Executive Director, Regional Housing Legal Services
Mark Schwartz is the Executive Director of Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS), a statewide nonprofit law firm with expertise in affordable, sustainable housing and its related components: community and economic development, utility matters, and preservation of homeownership. RHLS... Read More →
DS

Dina Schlossberg

Deputy Director/Senior Attorney Multi-Family Housing, Regional Housing Legal Services


Friday September 25, 2020 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Zoom .
 
Monday, September 28
 

10:00am EDT

TANF and SNAP Employment and Training Program Revamp
DHS spent over a year working on a redesign of its TANF and SNAP E & T programs. Basically, these changes abandon the "work first" approach, and it's emphasis on rapid attachment to the work force, and instead focus on assessment, barrier removal, and education/training. Most of these changes are being implemented through modifications to the contracts with EARN programs. In addition, the Work Ready program has been repurposed to focus solely on Extended TANF families. These changes went into effect on July 1, 2020. In this session we will talk in more detail about the programmatic changes as well as various E & T policy changes intended to facilitate the revamp. The COVID pandemic has impacted both the ability of clients to participate in E & T activities and the manner in which they participate. E & T providers are attempting to serve clients remotely, which raises numerous issues that we will explore in the session.

Speakers
avatar for Louise Hayes

Louise Hayes

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Supervising Attorney
Louise Hayes has been an attorney at CLS’s North Philadelphia Law Center since 1997, when she joined CLS as an Independence Foundation Fellow. While helping CLS clients get and keep a range of public benefits, her expertise is in SNAP and cash assistance programs, including programs... Read More →
PZ

Peter Zurflieh

Community Justice Project



Monday September 28, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Tuesday, September 29
 

10:00am EDT

Everything You Ever wanted to Know about the Economic Impact Payment and Why Your Client Hasn’t Gotten it (Yet)
Under the CARES Act, the IRS was tasked with issuing the $1200, plus $500 per qualifying child, stimulus payment known as the Economic Impact Payment (EIP). Months later, many people who should have received the payment have not.

Hear from a panel of Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) practitioners about common problem scenarios including cases of social security benefit and SSI recipients and other non-filers, separated spouses, identify theft, and dependents potential solutions, litigation, and about the anticipated second round of payments.

Speakers
AM

Anthony Marqusee

Paralegal, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
Anthony Marqusee is a paralegal at Philadelphia Legal Assistance, where he has served clients in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic since 2017. He would describe taxes as "surprisingly interesting." Anthony is a graduate of Haverford College.
RS

Rebecca Stavish

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Managing Attorney, MidPenn Legal Services
Rebecca Stavish is the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Managing Attorney at MidPenn Legal Services. She has served in that role since 2017. The clinic helps clients with various IRS, and PA DOR, controversy, and collection matters. Attorney Stavish earned her B.S from Carnegie Mellon University... Read More →
avatar for Christine Speidel

Christine Speidel

Director of Federal Tax Clinic, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
Christine Speidel directs the Federal Tax Clinic at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. In the Clinic, she supervises law students as they represent individuals in a wide variety of IRS controversy and collection matters. Her research interests lie in the intersection... Read More →


Tuesday September 29, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Monday, October 5
 

10:00am EDT

Remote Eviction Hearing Issues in the Age of COVID-19
"In-person" eviction hearings may pose health risks to defendants with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of serious illness or death if exposed to the Coronavirus. At the same time, remote hearings may present procedural challenges that could impair a defendant's ability to evaluate evidence and present a defense.

This workshop will cover reasonable accommodation requests and potential due process challenges to the conduct of eviction hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speakers
ED

Eric Dunn

Director of Litigation, National Housing Law Project
Eric Dunn is a national expert on tenants’ rights and consumer law issues, known for high-impact advocacy on matters affecting subsidized housing tenants and families struggling to access housing because of criminal and eviction records. Prior to joining the National Housing Law... Read More →
MR

Matt Rich

Attorney, MidPenn Legal Services
Matt Rich provides advocacy, consultation, supportive services, and representation to low-income residents (mostly in both Dauphin and Perry Counties) primarily in the area of landlord/tenant cases, both in private and subsidized housing matters. He also works with low-income individuals... Read More →



Monday October 5, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Tuesday, October 6
 

10:00am EDT

Avoiding and Transition from Nursing Homes: Accessing the Community HealthChoices Waivers
Given the alarming rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes, residents are desperate to get out of these congregate settings and others are anxious to avoid nursing home placement. Instead they want to receive Medicaid-funded waiver services and supports delivered in their own homes.

This session will describe and provide practice tips on navigating the clinical and financial eligibility maze of Medicaid's Community HealthChoices waiver, including how to use income-spend-down trusts for individuals who would not otherwise be financially eligible for the waiver. The Community HealthChoices-required nursing home transition process will also be covered.

Speakers
avatar for Amy Lowenstein

Amy Lowenstein

Supervising Attorney, Pennsylvania Health Law Project
Amy Lowenstein is a Supervising Attorney at the Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP) where she focuses on improving access to Medicaid services—particularly in Pennsylvania’s managed long-term services and supports program—through policy analysis, systems advocacy, and direct... Read More →
KV

Kate Vengraitis

Staff Attorney, Community Legal Services
Kate Vengraitis is an attorney in the SSI and Health and Independence Units at Community Legal Services. Ms. Vengraitis began her career at CLS as a law student intern in 2013. Her practice focuses on representing adults and children facing issues attaining and maintaining Supplemental... Read More →



Tuesday October 6, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Friday, October 9
 

10:00am EDT

Defending Foreclosures in the COVID-19 Era
This presentation will talk about the loss mitigation options available to homeowners affected by COVID-19. We will focus on forbearance options for federally-backed (i.e., FHA, FannieMae, FreddieMac, VA & USDA-RHS) and non-federally back mortgages, including what happens when the forbearance ends.

We will also discuss the Pandemic Mortgage Assistance Program (PMAP) and defending a foreclosure filed against a homeowner who where there options were not provided.

Speakers
RL

Rachel Labush

Staff Attorney, Community Legal Services
MF

Michael Froehlich

Managing Attorney, Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit, Community Legal Services
Michael Froehlich joined CLS in 2006. Since 2013, he has served as the Managing Attorney of Community Legal Service’s Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit. He leads CLS’s work on behalf of homeowners and victims of predatory consumer scams. He represents clients in court and... Read More →



Friday October 9, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Thursday, October 15
 

10:00am EDT

Child Care Update
Congress several years ago reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. The Reauthorization included numerous family friendly changes to eligibility requirements for subsidized child care, which DHS and OCDEL are still in the process of implementing.

In this session we will review these important changes. We will also cover child care subsidy eligibility, including "doors to child care," i.e., who is served by each of PA's three subsidized child care programs - TANF, SNAP, and ELRC (formerly CCIS) - as well as how and under what circumstances parents can transition from one program to another.

Child care programs have been severely impacted by the COVID pandemic, which has affected both the supply and the capacity of providers to serve children. This at a time when there will be greater demands for child care as many schools are relying on distance learning as part of their plans to reopen safely. The session will include discussion of these issues.

Speakers
avatar for Louise Hayes

Louise Hayes

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Supervising Attorney
Louise Hayes has been an attorney at CLS’s North Philadelphia Law Center since 1997, when she joined CLS as an Independence Foundation Fellow. While helping CLS clients get and keep a range of public benefits, her expertise is in SNAP and cash assistance programs, including programs... Read More →
PZ

Peter Zurflieh

Community Justice Project



Thursday October 15, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Monday, October 19
 

10:00am EDT

Foreclosure 101: An Introduction to Helping Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
Is Pennsylvania a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure state? Do you know when an Act 6 notice (versus Act 91 notice) must be sent to a homeowner? Can you define "mortgagee," "amortization," and HEMAP? If so, this session is not for you. But if you want a refresher on foreclosure basics or have been representing homeowners facing foreclosure for less than a year or so, please consider attending this session. We will be talking about the basics of mortgage foreclosure law in Pennsylvania and the role of homeowners' lawyers.

Speakers
RG

Rachel Gallegos

Senior Staff Attorney, Community Legal Services
Rachel Gallegos became a senior staff attorney in the Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit in 2019. Prior to joining CLS, Ms. Gallegos was a law clerk to the Honorable John T. McNeill, III, in the Camden County Superior Court. From there, she went to clerk for the Honorable Annette... Read More →
MB

Michelle Brix

Paralegal, Community Legal Services
Michelle Harper Brix is a paralegal in the CLS Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit.


Monday October 19, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
Tuesday, October 20
 

10:00am EDT

Child Custody: Learning the Basics and Navigating the Virus
This 90 minute session will introduce participants to basic legal concepts in child custody practice, including a discussion of the statutory factors, a review of common pleadings and court procedure, and notice of recent case law updates. The speakers will also provide practice tips in areas of special consideration, such as domestic violence and inter/intrastate issues.

This presentation will also provide insights on how to help your clients co-parent during a pandemic and how to adapt your advocacy to the virtual environment.

Speakers
AR

Angela Ruan

Staff Attorney, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
SR

Sarah Robinson

Staff Attorney, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
I am a family law attorney with a year of experience. I started my career in anti-sex trafficking policy and providing direct legal services to trafficking survivors in criminal defense and post-conviction relief. I love dogs and desert. 


Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
 
Thursday, October 22
 

2:00pm EDT

Defending Subsidized Tenants in Alleged Criminal Activity Eviction and Section 8 Termination Actions
When subsidized housing tenants face eviction or Section 8 terminations due to their household members or guests' alleged criminal activity, the consequences are severe. Their future right to reside in any federally subsidized housing could be rescinded for years, or sometimes forever. This workshop will examine and illustrate the wide variety of possible defenses to these criminal activity-based adversarial proceedings, and describe how these defenses vary, depending upon the type of federally subsidized housing involved.

Speakers
avatar for Eileen Yacknin

Eileen Yacknin

Director of Litigation, Neighborhood Legal Services
Eileen Yacknin works at Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS), her first and only job, arriving straight from Boston College Law School in 1977, before most of you were born. For several years and currently, she serves as NLS’s Litigation Director. For nearly 25 years, she served as... Read More →



Thursday October 22, 2020 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Zoom .
 
Monday, October 26
 

10:00am EDT

Challenging Illegal Section 8 Side Payments with the Federal False Claims Act
The limited availability of suitable Section 8 Voucher housing has often resulted in the demands of Section 8 landlords to exact from needy tenants rent and/or utility payments in excess of what the Section 8 program permits, as a condition to enter into or extend leases with those tenants. Despite the illegality of these payments, desperate tenants often agree to such side deals, thereby paying hundreds, even thousands, more than landlords are entitled. Often, when tenants fail to remit these extra payments, landlords terminate their leases and sue them for eviction and those unpaid sums. The federal False Claims Act, designed to prevent fraud in the receipt of government benefits, has successfully been used to sanction these unlawful landlord practices, with enormous damages and attorney's fees. This workshop will introduce participants to the framework and contours of the Act and to explain how to litigate these cases.

Speakers
avatar for Eileen Yacknin

Eileen Yacknin

Director of Litigation, Neighborhood Legal Services
Eileen Yacknin works at Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS), her first and only job, arriving straight from Boston College Law School in 1977, before most of you were born. For several years and currently, she serves as NLS’s Litigation Director. For nearly 25 years, she served as... Read More →



Monday October 26, 2020 10:00am - 11:30am EDT
Zoom .
 
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