While we practice law to earn a living, we remember that our legal and advocacy skills should also be employed to help those who may not be able to afford the services of a lawyer. To fulfill this obligation, Rath, Young and Pignatelli has a strong commitment to the development and delivery of legal services to people of limited means. We believe that pro bono work and community service improves the quality of a lawyer’s life, has a positive effect on legal skills and enhances professionalism.
We are particularly proud of one unique pro bono project where our lawyers worked to design a new “housing security guarantee program” in 1993, and then to help enact the legislation that authorized the new program. This bill (SB 158, now codified at RSA 126-A:50-62) describes the purpose for the program as follows:
“The legislature finds that the inability of individual citizens to amass sufficient funds for housing security deposits contributes significantly to the problem of homelessness in the state of New Hampshire; that a program of security deposit guarantees which is coordinated with other programs that address rental housing security could assist in alleviating that problem; that it is possible, and desirable, to structure and implement such a program without threatening the fiscal health of the state; that the financial health of the state shall indeed be served by enabling private housing opportunities; and that such a program is necessary for the public good, health, welfare, and stability of the state.”
Rath | Young attorneys Bill Ardinger and Ann McLane Kuster collaborated with professionals at New Hampshire Legal Assistance and representatives of local housing organizations to develop the structure of the program, which does not require a direct budget appropriation. Bill had just completed work to design new credit enhancement programs for the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority, which deploy the state’s credit to support New Hampshire businesses. He used the same concept to allow state government to help low-income New Hampshire residents access housing.
Senator Susan McLane (Ann’s mother), a long-time advocate for the homeless, led this effort as the legislative sponsor of SB 158. Senator McLane was able to coordinate a diverse and bipartisan supporting coalition. The bill was signed into law by Governor Steve Merrill in 1993, and became effective January 1, 1994.
Susan McLane (at left) served for 25 years in the State Legislature, representing Concord. She died in 2005 from Alzheimer’s disease. Ann McLane Kuster has authored a book,The Last Dance, to chronicle the McLane family’s experience with Susan’s disease.
The Housing Security Guarantee Program is overseen by the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Behavioral Health, Office of Homeless, Housing and Transportation Services, and is administered through a network of nonprofit community agencies.
For more information on the Program, including contact information on how to apply, please see the attached Program Brochure, or call the state Office of Homeless, Housing and Transportation Services at (603) 271-5055.
Rath, Young and Pignatelli is committed to public service, and we will help our attorneys and professionals find creative and fulfilling ways to fulfill our obligation to give back to our communities.