Disaster Relief

We are a recognized leader in providing critical legal pro bono services in response to national disasters. After the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, the Public Service Project (PSP) put itself on the front lines of legal relief for thousands of struggling Americans, with special focus on assisting small businesses.

After September 11, we:

  • Conceived, staffed and helped launch the citywide Small Business Legal Relief initiative, which served approximately 800 small businesses struggling to survive while facing an oppressive array of legal needs.
  • Helped organize and staff a unique mediation program in the Housing Part of NYC Civil Court to help keep small businesses from being evicted while also responding to the needs of landlords.
  • Founded and advised From the Ground Up, a self-help and advocacy group for small businesses in Lower Manhattan.
  • Created a template for a citywide “Adopt-a-Firehouse” program that provided Trust & Estates advice to firehouses and families of first responders.

Drawing on our experience in Lower Manhattan, we came to the aid of thousands of small business owners in New Orleans after the shocking losses caused by Hurricane Katrina. We co-created and counseled the grassroots advocacy group Second Wind, with over 1,000 small business members. Among other victories, Second Wind successfully lobbied for and helped organize a $100 million small business grant program.

After Superstorm Sandy devastated coastal homes and businesses in and around New York City, the PSP again drew on its knowledge of small business legal needs to help coordinate law firms and legal services providers, to lead a citywide training, to open and staff walk-in clinics, and to provide direct representation to struggling entrepreneurs.

More recently, we helped strategize and coordinate legal relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.