Thank you for visiting the online home of LEJ. Hawai`i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice (LEJ) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) law firm created to advocate on behalf of low income individuals and families in Hawai`i on civil legal issues of statewide importance and to complement the assistance provided by existing legal services providers in the state. We hope you return often to stay up-to-date on the newest developments and successes we achieve here at LEJ.
On December 3, 2013, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Head of the Hawai`i Department of Human Services (DHS) for violating federal law by failing to pay foster parents enough to adequately care for the foster children in their homes. Long-time foster parent Raynette Nalani Ah Chong filed the suit on behalf of more than 1000 foster parents in the state who have been short-changed because the state has failed to increase the payments since 1990. The federal Child Welfare Act requires that reimbursements cover the expenses of children in foster care, but the $529 per month payment — set by the state nearly a quarter century ago — does not come close. Had the payment been adjusted for inflation, it would be over $950. Read more
In November 2013, Hawaii Appleseed released two reports: "Reimagining Housing in Hawaii" detailing successful affordable housing models like microunits, ohana housing, modular housing, among others and "Creating a Fairer State Tax System and Economy for All Families", outlining our 5 policy strategies we aim to pursue in the 2014 legislative session. Click here to read more.
Hawaii Appleseed, along with pro bono partners Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, filed a federal court class action lawsuit on Sept. 6, 2013 against the Hawaii Department of Transportation (“HDOT”). Plaintiffs Faith Action for Community Equity (“FACE”)—a faith-based grassroots community advocacy non-profit—and two Hawaii residents whose names are being concealed to prevent potential retaliation, allege that HDOT is discriminating against Hawaii residents of various ethnic and national origins by failing to allow translation or interpretation of the written driver’s exam necessary to obtain a driver’s license. Read more
On May 16, 2013, Hawaii Appleseed Center and students from the University of Hawaii School of Architecture presented the results of their housing design competition featuring ultra-affordable, modular microunits aimed at addressing Hawaii's severe affordable housing shortage and homelessness crisis. Click here to read more about the competition, including entries and winners. For pictures from this event, please click here.
PBS Hawaii, Island Insights with Dan Boylan, Legislation to assist low-income wage earners
On March 28, 2013, Executive Director Victor Geminiani appeared on Island Insights with Dan Boylan as one of the panel members discussing various legislation that could improve the economic well-being of low-income workers. Legislation discussed included raising the minimum wage, instituting a state Earned Income Tax Credit, and creating a Poverty Tax Credit. Click here to read more about our legislative activities and click here to read more about our tax advocacy.
Federal Court issues Preliminary Injunction, Orders State of Hawai`i to Improve SNAP Delivery System for Timely Processing of Applications
LEJ brought federal claims, seeking to correct the Department of Human Service’s ongoing and persistent failure to process in timely manner applications for Hawai`i’s poorest families who seek Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. On November 16, 2011, almost one full year after litigation commenced, Federal District Court Judge Ezra issued an Order for Preliminary Injunction, mandating the State of Hawai`i take immediate action to improve delivery systems and meet Federal guidelines for timely processing of food stamp eligibility determinations. Read More
"Gang activity, rat infestations, deteriorating walls and ceilings, and, until this June, no hot, running water. For the approximately 1,100 tenants of Mayor Wright Homes, this is life. Years of neglect forced residents to sue the state. Lawyers want to settle the case this year to finally reverse these deplorable conditions. But for these residents, positive change has been years in the making." Read More
Seeking to end notoriously unsafe, unsanitary, and inaccessible conditions at Mayor Wright attorneys for a group of low-income residents with disabilities filed class action lawsuits in federal and state court against the State of Hawai`i and the Hawaii Public Housing Authority. More about this impact litigation here.