Our History

The Legal Action Center for the Homeless' original Subway poster (1987)Since 1984, the Safety Net Project has fought tirelessly for a wider, finer safety net.

Originally founded in a burned-out building in East Harlem as the Legal Action Center for the Homeless, we ultimately evolved into an eleven-project umbrella organization known as the Urban Justice Center.

Within this framework, we were known as the Homelessness Outreach & Prevention Project (HOPP) for two decades, focusing on providing community legal services in soup kitchens and food pantries to individuals and families left with nowhere else to turn.

In early 2013, we changed our name to the Safety Net Project to better reflect the full spectrum of our services. Today, we continue the fight against poverty while maintaining our commitment to quality, individualized legal services for our neediest neighbors.

Legal Victories

Along the way, we’ve won significant victories for economic justice. In 2008, we settled federal lawsuit Williston v. Eggleston with New York City's Human Resources Administration (HRA) and New York State's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which addressed a systematic breakdown in the processing of SNAP (Food Stamp) applications. We continue to monitor SNAP issues to this day so that everyday New Yorkers have access to healthy, nutritious food.

Expansion of ServicesCouncilmembers Ritchie Torres and Vanessa Gibson help Denise Miranda unveil our Bronx Office (2014)

Over the past three years, we’ve expanded our services to dozens of additional communities in all five boroughs. In 2014, we opened a new satellite office at the Union Community Health Center in the Bronx while adding the Riis Settlement House to our partnership coalition.

We also continue to offer free, frequent, and easily accessible legal clinics located in established community-based organizations throughout the city. Anchored by our Lower Manhattan offices, these clinics represent our decades-long commitment to community lawyering.

Responding to Emergencies

The Safety Net Project is ready to respond during crises. After Hurricane Sandy, we began operating “pop-up” legal clinics in Lower Manhattan and the Rockaways. These clinics assisted low-income New Yorkers with obtaining replacement SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits, submitting FEMA applications, and obtaining referrals for other critical services.

The Safety Net Project also coordinated with The River Fund to distribute food and relief supplies in areas affected by the storm. We continue to provide direct representation to individuals whose lives were uprooted after Sandy.

We work tirelessly to ensure economic security for all New Yorkers. Find out more about our work or how you can get involved.