Expanding Partnership with Mass General

Coronavirus, Health Disparities

Mass General patients at our health centers in Revere, Everett and Charlestown will now have access to Lawyers for Civil Rights to help them obtain housing and income supports. This will double the capacity of the Legal Initiative for Care (LINC), an innovative medical/legal partnership begun at the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center 17 years ago.

LINC was launched in 2003 to improve the health and well-being of low-income families who are patients of the pediatric or adult primary care practices at MGH Chelsea with a mission of addressing the legal issues that affect a patient’s health. Attorney Laura Maslow-Armand has been providing legal services since the program’s inception, including representation to prevent eviction, filing for unemployment benefits, applying for subsidized housing, advocating for special accommodations for patients with disabilities, appealing denial of disability awards and, in general, facilitating access to public benefits for patients.

Attorney Melanie Gleason is joining the team and will focus primarily on housing issues. If a patient has the resources and ability, Attorney Gleason helps them self-advocate by providing legal information and coaching to help them mediate and negotiate a conflict. If the patient needs additional support and there is legal action to be taken, she will assist more directly by representing them in their housing matter.

 “Since the eviction moratorium is in place until at least mid-October, LINC has been assisting patients with housing needs such as mediating/negotiating with landlords about uninhabitable living conditions; helping patients understand and enforce their rights as a tenant with or without a written lease; resolving conflicts and disputes with landlords, neighbors, and roommates—and more,” said Sarah Oo, director of Community Health Improvement at MGH Chelsea. “With this much-needed increase in capacity, we are better able to address the critical need of our patients at MGH Chelsea as well as our other health centers.”

“The negative impacts of housing instability, eviction and homelessness are seen across the country and in our local health centers every day,” said Joan Quinlan, Mass General’s Vice President for Community Health. “Lack of safe, affordable housing has been linked to poor health outcomes as well as depression and long term mental health difficulties for children and adults. Now, with COVID-19, the situation is becoming even more dire. We are proud to expand these vital medical-legal services to our patients in Revere, Everett and Charlestown, communities disproportionately impacted by the virus and the housing crisis.”

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director of LCR, said, “Support for low-income patients is now more critical than ever due to COVID-19, and this initiative with MGH creates a local and national model for direct support to help stabilize and ensure the wellbeing of people of color and immigrants. We applaud MGH for their visionary leadership in supporting children, families, and communities.”

More information is available here.