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.

Protecting Tenants in the BronxCouncilmembers Ritchie Torres and Vanessa Gibson help Denise Miranda unveil our Bronx Office (2014)

In 2014, we opened a new office at the Union Community Health Center in the Bronx, offering free legal services for community members in the Bronx seeking help with critical housing and benefits issues.

We are also members of New York City’s Right to Counsel initiative in Bronx Housing Court. This historic intiative, which is the first of its kind in the country, ensures that New York City’s poorest tenants have access to an attorney to represent them in housing court in order to prevent evictions and ensure safe and adequate housing conditions.

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.

Organizing for Change

SNP’s community organizing work is led by the Safety Net Activists, a volunteer group of community members with personal experience with poverty, homelessness, and the public benefits system. Since 2014, the Safety Net Activists have been organizing to improve New York’s safety net programs, including Public Assistance, SNAP, and the shelter system. Since their founding, the Safety Net Activists have successfully pushed for changes to improve NYC's public benefits system, empowered thousands of low-income people with information about their rights, and joined with other NYC groups to advocate for adequate benefit levels, low-income housing, decriminalization of homelessness, and more.