Legal Aid in the News

Consumer Rights Attorney Questions NV Energy's Prepayment Plan Proposal

July 21, 2014
Public News Service

CARSON CITY, Nev. – The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada is questioning a prepayment plan for electricity bills being considered by Nevada's Public Utilities Commission.

 Sophia Medina, a consumer rights attorney with the Legal Aid Center, says NV Energy's proposed Flexible Payment program would operate in a similar way to prepaid cell phones. 

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CARSON CITY, Nev. – The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada is questioning a prepayment plan for electricity bills being considered by Nevada's Public Utilities Commission.

Sophia Medina, a consumer rights attorney with the Legal Aid Center, says NV Energy's proposed Flexible Payment program would operate in a similar way to prepaid cell phones.

She says her organization's concerns, which are also shared by AARP Nevada, is that low-income people would be the most-likely customers.

"So, the concern is, people aren't going to be able to anticipate the electricity usage, she explains. “And therefore the electricity is going to be turned off."

In its filing with the Public Utilities Commission, NV Energy says opt-in Flexible Payment-style programs in other states have saved customers money and resulted in lower energy use.

Medina says that lower use can be explained in part by deprivation. Meaning, customers only use the amount of electricity they can afford and then do without.

She says another problem with the plan is that people can end up borrowing money from high-interest payday lenders.

"It almost guarantees that people will get on a debt treadmill,” she maintains. “If you don't have electricity and you need a payday loan to get electricity, that is obviously a cause for concern and raises some definite red flags."

Medina says the prepayment plan also eliminates current protections in the Consumer Bill of Rights, including a required 10-day notice prior to termination.

Meaning, that under the pre-paid proposal, NV Energy could immediately shut off services remotely.

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada expands to help most vulnerable

June 14, 2013
Channel 3 News

The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada started out as three attorneys and a passion to help people in need. Now, it has turned into a large non-profit helping thousands of people to get through the court system.

The Legal Aid Center has just tripled in size, opening up more office space and taking on more staff attorneys. It also has an estimated 1,000 volunteer attorneys to help people in desperate need of legal services who cannot afford it. 

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Foster kids have ally in legal aid center

February 12, 2014
by John L. Smith
Las Vegas Review Journal

And you thought reading, writing and arithmetic were the hard parts.

Faced with a variety of societal stresses, the Clark County School District is tasked with putting its arms around students from all walks of life. Some of those kids enter school under circumstances that are difficult for many of us to imagine.

In public school, the doors are open to all.

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Las Vegas family falls victim to rental scam

January 31, 2014
By Daniel Gutierrez
13 Action News

Las Vegas is a hot rental market right now, and countless online listings make finding a place easy. But when you're surfing the web, beware of who you're doing business with.

"It's a three bedroom, two bath. It's really big," said Nayeli Nevarez.

She was thrilled to find a spacious Henderson home for rent last October. The craigslist ad she came across, was asking for $1,200 a month.

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Get the Facts Regarding Payday Loans

December 17, 2013
by Michelle Mortensen
8 News Now

With the holiday season in full swing, some people may turn to payday loans to make ends meet. 8 on Your Side offers a warning to those who choose this option.

According to new research, people who take out payday loans are more likely to borrow more money every two weeks. That gives them approximately five additional months of debt.

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Online Help Coming for NV Domestic Violence Victims

September 16, 2013

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Domestic violence victims gained a new legal right this year - to be able to break a rental lease in order to get away from their abuser. By the end of this week, they should also be able to access free help on the Internet.

In five out of the last six years, the Silver State has topped the national list for a particular type of domestic violence fatality. It's an alarming statistic, said April Green, who directs the Domestic Violence Project at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

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Legal services nonprofit unveils new facility for hope

June 20, 2013
By Jane ann Morrison
Las Vegas Review Journal

Executive Director Barbara Buckley beamed like a proud mother as she showed me around the new Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada building, obviously proud of this baby.

The $16 million project, including the land, the building and the unfinished garage, now houses 100 staff members. It’s filled with light and hope.

I remember the nonprofit’s previous building in 2000 with 18 people squeezed into one floor.

After Buckley became Assembly speaker in 2007, I would wait for her in the overcrowded waiting room, wondering what kinds of problems the people sitting around me had to face, grateful they weren’t my problems.

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Volunteers needed to advocate for foster children with disabilities in local schools

-- Orientation/training on February 20, 2013 --

LAS VEGAS, January 8, 2013 – Some of the most vulnerable children – children in the foster care system with disabilities – need someone to make sure they get necessary services to excel in school. A six-year-old program is providing that support but needs more volunteers to meet the growing demand for children who have no one else to help them in local schools. Sponsored by the non¬profit Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, the Educational Surrogate Parent Program trains volunteers to serve as student advocates during school meetings and for special education issues.

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I-Team: HOAs Have Right to Foreclose For Delinquent Dues

May 22, 2013
By Colleen McCarty
8 News Now

Foreclosures by homeowner's associations have increased dramatically in the last year. What used to be a last resort for HOAs is becoming a regular practice, often to the surprise of homeowners. An HOA is in the legal right to take a house. HOAs have the power to foreclose, even if the homeowner owes just a small amount of money.

It happened to Venise Abelard and hundreds of others who once thought the only thing they had to fear was their bank.

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Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Offering Free Legal Information Classes in Spanish

Spanish-language classes in family law, small claims court and bankruptcy now available with a special one-time class to address children’s special education needs

LAS VEGAS – February 19, 2013 – As part of a long-standing partnership between Legal Aid Center and the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, the two organizations are offering free legal information classes taught in Spanish in family law, small claims, bankruptcy and special education. Class days and time vary and materials and class schedules are available through www.lacsn.org/free-classes.  The current schedule of Spanish classes is listed below.

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Thanks to two Girl Scouts, new foster children get guide to intimidating system

April 2, 2013
By Tovin Lapan
Las Vegas Sun

It’s a tough but essential question for anyone advocating for Nevada’s foster children: How do you make children aware of their rights and empower them without overwhelming them and causing panic when they have just been taken from their home?

At the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, which actively represents about half of the 3,200 children in Clark County’s foster care system and will provide a lawyer for any foster child who requests one through its children’s attorney project, work on the answer has been under way for at least four years.

Thanks to two Girl Scouts, the Legal Aid Center finally has a book it thinks does the dual job of engaging foster children while still delivering the essential information. The scouts and the center will be honored Tuesday morning by the Clark County Commission.

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I-Team: Nevada Requires CCSD to Provide Autism Services

Dec 20, 2012
By Colleen McCarty
8 News Now

Autistic students who need in-home behavioral therapy will now receive it free of charge, according to the Nevada Department of Education. The decision follows the department's review of autism services at the Clark County School District. Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by social, communication and behavioral challenges.

The education department concluded that the district is in violation of state and federal law and that it must submit a plan to fix the problem within the next 30 days.

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I-Team: Autistic Children Face Education Hurdles

Dec 13, 2012
By Colleen McCarty
8 News Now

About 4,000 students in the Clark County School District have been diagnosed with some form of autism, a developmental disorder characterized by social, communication and behavioral challenges.

In the coming weeks, the state Department of Education is expected to decide how the district should provide resources for autistic kids and who will have to pay for them.

The school district is proud to be one of a few districts in the country to provide in-home services for some autistic children.

But some parents who get them said they come with a dysfunctional bureaucracy, one that not only delays treatment, but drains families financially.

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I-Team: Payday Lenders Seek Weaker Regulations

Nov 09, 2012
By Colleen McCarty
8 News Now

In the post-recession economy, many Las Vegans are living paycheck to paycheck, often turning to payday lenders to help make ends meet. For some, those high interest loans lead to a crippling cycle of debt. Nevada has no rules restricting the interest rate on payday loans -- 100 percent, 500 percent or 1,000 percent -- it's all legal.But Nevada does have some state laws that protect consumers from predatory practices, unless the lenders get their way on Capitol Hill.

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Economist: Las Vegas housing recovery could take decades

October 8, 2012
By Benjamin Spillman
Las Vegas Review Journal

Sileshi Kassa is nothing if not persistent.

The 61-year-old Ethiopian immigrant slogged through a bureaucratic bog for two years so that he could save his family's Las Vegas-area house from foreclosure.

But the global recession arrived like a tsunami in 2008 and swamped Kassa, and more than 150,000 others. Driving a cab was no longer enough to maintain the mortgage.

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