City Limits: Four Nonprofits to Receive Residual Class-Action Settlement Funds

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, and The Bronx Defenders, all leading civil rights advocacy groups and law firms, announced that the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has approved their request to equally distribute nearly $165,000 in remaining class-action settlement funds among four high-quality and innovative nonprofits. The four organizations — Picture the Homeless, Ali Forney Center, Streetwise & Safe, and the Urban Justice Center Sex Workers Project — will each receive over $40,000 to continue providing critical services to the homeless and other underserved New Yorkers.

The $165,000 is the remaining unclaimed funds of a class-action settlement from 2012, which required New York City to pay $15 million to approximately 22,000 New Yorkers who were illegally charged by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) under unconstitutional “loitering” statutes. New York State and Federal Courts had struck down these laws in the 1980s and 1990s, but the NYPD continued to enforce these void statutes, often targeting people based on poverty, race, and sexual orientation.

The three co-counsels—NYLPI, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, and The Bronx Defenders—released the following statement:

“According to the cy pres doctrine, residual settlement funds may be distributed to support a purpose that is in the interest of the original class members. The four nonprofits not only serve the homeless, LGBTQ, and other marginalized New Yorkers who were initially impacted by the enforcement of void loitering laws, but will also know how to best use the remaining funds by providing community-centered legal and social services.”

“We are delighted that the Court has approved our plan to distribute the remaining funds and look forward to further extending the impact of our original settlement by putting the additional $165,000 to good use.”

The Urban Justice Center Sex Workers Project released a statement: “The Sex Workers Project is delighted to receive these funds. We will use this money to assist sex workers by providing legal and social services grounded in human rights values, and to continue to advocate that the criminal justice system treat sex workers with dignity and fairness.”

Picture the Homeless released a statement: “We are grateful to the Court and the other participating organizations. We look forward to using these resources to continue our work to educate and organize homeless folks about their rights, and to advocate for fair and constitutional treatment of homeless people in the future.”


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