Weekly Round-up September 15th, 2014

Parents May Soon Find it Easier to Obtain College Loans Under New Plan:

  • In 2011, it became increasingly difficult to obtain a Parent Plus loan.  This has especially affected many poor families, who find it difficult for their children to attend undergrad and graduate school without loans.
  • For a parent with negative credit history, it is much more difficult to secure funding for their child to continue their education.
  • The Obama Administration has proposed a revision with respect to the current Parent Plus loan screening process. If the proposed plan goes into effect, when doing its standard credit check, instead of going back five years, the Education Department will only go back two years. Additionally, if there is a debt below $2,085, it will not be considered as a reason to reject a loan application. Under the current policy, delinquencies of any amount can be a bar to gaining access to student loans. The Administration projects that this change in policy will lead to at least an additional 370,000 individuals being approved for loans.
  • Proponents of this policy change see it as a way to increase low-income students enrollment in higher education. Currently, Stafford Loans, which are an option for undergraduate students are capped at $57,000 for life. Many times, this is not enough to meet education costs, and it is even more difficult to obtain private loans if a parent has negative credit history.
  • Critics are concerned that borrowing large sums of money will lock individuals into repayment for a lifetime, and they have compared it to the housing market crash that occurred when banks were approving mortgages that were unrealistically high compared to a person’s income. They also point to the fact that student debt has doubled since 2007, and it is now $1.1 trillion.
  • The Obama Administration’s goal is to create a policy that will increase college and graduate school enrollment rates amongst poor families without burdening them with over borrowing or excessive tuitions.
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Weekly Round-Up September 8th, 2014

Five-Borough, Ten-year plan to Create More Affordable Housing:

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio recently released a Five-Borough, Ten-year plan, which aims at creating or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing. Now, affordable housing units could become a mandatory part of any new real estate development project that requires a zoning change or City Planning Commission approval. This new mandate would require a change in the zoning laws of New York City.
  • In a statement made on Friday, September 5 at a breakfast at the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School, Carl Weisbrod, chairman of the City Planning Commission, said that developers will not be able to “build one unit unless [they] build [their] share of affordable housing.” He added, “There will be a minimum that the developer has to do without subsidy.”
  • The requirements would apply to new development projects requiring zoning changes, and apartment building projects of 6 or more stories requiring City Planning Commission approval.
  • The Mayor’s mission is to provide economic stability to families of varying incomes and to ensure that everyone has a “safe” and “decent” home. He would also like to preserve affordable housing in all communities, and help families to hold onto rent-regulated apartments, and allow seniors to continue living in neighborhoods where the rents are becoming too costly for them to afford.
  • To read more about the mission, goals, and implementation of the new plan, click here and here. (New York Times).  To see a video of the breakfast, click here.  (CityLand)

Mobile Child Support Program:

  • In 2009, Kai Patterson founded Project Child Support to assist custodial parents in obtaining child support owed to them and non-custodial parents in avoiding accumulating more child support debt. Last week, Project Child Support unveiled its newest form of assistance: the mobile child support van.
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Weekly Round-Up September 2nd, 2014

Pilot Program to Equip NYPD Officers with Body Cameras:

  • In recent months, the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have mounted pressure on officials to consider measures that would cultivate a more positive dynamic between police officers and civilians.  One proposal has been to require police officers to wear body cameras.  This would help to provide evidence of what was going on before, during, and after any kind of interaction between police and members of the community.
  • City Public Advocate Letitia James proposed a pilot program aimed at this cause.   She proposed that officers in high-crime precincts should be equipped with a body camera.  The cameras would be about the size of a pager and they would cost between $400 and $900 each. Equipping each officer on patrol with a camera would cost around $32 million. Currently, the city spends roughly $152 million a year on settlements related to police misconduct.  In places like New Orleans and Missouri, where the body cameras are used by police, there has been a decline in civil law suits brought against police for issues regarding misconduct.
  • Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that a pilot program would begin with about 50 officers.  The pilot program will cost approximately $5 million.
  • District Judge Shira Schiendlin had ordered the NYPD to start a similar program in 2012.  Her idea was to equip officers in the boroughs with the highest incidents of stop-and-frisk rates with a camera.
  • The current measure announced by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will serve 2 purposes.   It will serve as a check on the behavior of police officers and it will also serve as a safeguard for officers, because it can help to exonerate them when they are falsely accused of misconduct.
  • The cameras have also helped to dismiss cases against civilians who were falsely accused in some way by police.
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Welcome Back


            As the first full week of classes comes to a close, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone, from the new first year students to the fourth year evening students, back to New York Law School for the 2014-2015 school year.

            We are excited to begin this year as the editors of the blog and to see all of the new changes that are coming with the new Impact Center for Public Interest Law. Along with writing the weekly round-ups of new laws, opinions, and news in the genre of Family and Children’s Law, we look forward to working with any students interested in writing for the blog. So here’s to a great semester, great blog posts, and great events with the Abbey Law Institute.… Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: August 25th, 2014

Public Health/Contraception & Health Insurance – New Federal Rules:

  • The Affordable Care Act provision requiring health insurance coverage for contraception has been the source of ongoing controversy. Some religious nonprofits, including Catholic schools and hospitals, objected to this practice, arguing that it went against their beliefs.
  • As a way to circumvent this issue, while still granting women access to contraception, the Obama Administration required nonprofits that objected to contraception to notify the insurer who would then be responsible for the cost of the contraception coverage and for administering it. Religious nonprofits objected to this because they argued that the very act of reaching out to the insurer about providing contraception to their employees went against their religious beliefs. In essence, religious organizations saw it as a “permission slip” for women to gain access to birth control and ultimately, to use it.
  • In response to the religious nonprofits concerns and in an effort to avoid litigation, the Obama Administration announced a new way for women who work for religious nonprofits to have access to contraception while providing an accommodation for religious employers. Under new interim final regulations, nonprofit religious organizations can notify the Department of Health and Human Services of their religious objections to providing some or all contraception services under their health plan, and the Department of Labor will step in and arrange for a third party insurer to make contraception available to women free of charge.  Religious organizations are questioning whether this is still a violation of their beliefs.
  • This rule does not currently apply to all religious organizations.  In June, the Supreme Court held that closely held for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby are allowed to opt out of making contraception available to women for religious reasons.  Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts store owned by a Christian family.
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