Mercy Haven broke new ground by opening MAP in 1997, extending legal advocacy as part of a mental health agency. Unlike protections offered by the U.S. legal system for the poor who face criminal charges, there is no constitutional right to counsel for low-income persons facing a civil legal emergency.
Under the direction of MAP founder John Castellano, Esq., Mercy Haven has represented clients who face life-threatening risks such as termination of public assistance, Social Security, disability, Medicaid, and Medicare payments; termination of food stamps; evictions, foreclosures, and termination of utilities. More than 2,100 cases have been opened by Mercy Haven legal advocacy program since MAP's inception in 1997.
In addition to protecting the rights of Mercy Haven's residents, MAP has promoted systemic change benefiting low-income families and individuals throughout New York State. In the class-action suit Graves v. Doar, John Castellano and co-council Peter Volmer and Gene Doyle successfully obtained an increase of over $150 million per year in Food Stamp benefits to New York State for 20,000 group home residents and 95,000 more recipients residing in public or subsidized housing. Read more about this landmark case in the Newday article "Key Rulings Benefit Mentally Ill" below.
Attorney-in-Charge, John Castellano, of the Mercy Advocacy Program
Holy Cross Magazine-July 2012
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