AABANY and Chinatown CLT Host Successful Rent Relief Application Virtual Phone Clinic

By Nick Loh

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) just concluded a virtual phone clinic to assist Mandarin and Cantonese speaking tenants in applying for the NYS Homes and Community Renewal’s (HCR) COVID Rent Relief Extension Program. This HCR program allowed NYS renters to seek a one-time rental subsidy for the months of April – July 2020. The program originally opened for submission in late July 2020, extended to August 8, 2020, and then re-opened the application process on December 18, 2020 until February 1, 2021. We assisted 83 callers in total: 87.5% of those callers had limited English proficiency, with most callers speaking Cantonese (41.1%) and Mandarin (46.4%). We handled this call volume with a dedicated team of 24 volunteers.

In response to the program’s second extension, AABANY organized a coalition to get bilingual information and resources out to the community. Articles ran in ethnic newspapers during the weekend of January 17, 2021, announcing our COVID Rent Relief Project 2.0. The goal of the project remote clinic was (1) to provide information to callers on how to apply, (2) if necessary, to have the volunteer and caller contact HCR’s Call Center together to reach an interpreter, and/or (3) to have the volunteer act as the interpreter. No legal advice or legal representation was provided.

At a time of increasing isolation due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and in the face of language access barriers for Mandarin and Cantonese speaking NYC residents, the AABANY Virtual Phone Clinic provided a welcome opportunity to build relationships in the community and provide assistance. 

AABANY would like to thank William Lee, Vice Chair of the Student Outreach Committee; May Wong, Remote Clinic Coordinator, and the Organizers of the COVID Response Law Student Team (Nicholas Loh, Xinyi Shen, and Olympia Moy). We thank the 16 law school volunteers (representing 8 different law schools) and 5 community members who made calls, waited on hold to speak to HCR, and provided this valuable assistance to the community.

AABANY would like to thank our community leaders who partnered with us in making this clinic a possibility. They include:

  • AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Services Committee –  Co-chairs – Asako Aiba, Judy Lee, Karen Lin, and Karen Kithan Yau; Remote Clinic Coordinator – May Wong
  • AABANY’s Vice Chair of the Student Outreach Committee – William Lee
  • Roxy Chang, Community Organizer of Asian American For Equality
  • Lizzie Lee, Community Liaison from NYS Senator Brian Kavanagh’s office  
  •  Damaris Reyes, Executive Director, GOLES, Inc.
  • Jacky Wong, Chinatown Community Land Trust  

Press Release: Asian American Bar Association of New York and Visiting Nurse Service of New York Announce Free ‘Know Your Rights’ Seminars in Mandarin and Cantonese

December 2, 2016

Contact: Yang Chen, Executive Director
(212) 332-2478

NEW YORK – The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (“VNSNY”) are proud to announce their free public ‘Know Your Rights’ seminars on helpful legal information in Mandarin and Cantonese. These trainings are intended to educate Chinatown community members on housing repairs and tax filing. All trainings will be held at the VNSNY Chinatown Community Service Center located at 7 Mott Street. This three-part series is free of charge and open to any community member. To register, call VNSNY at (212) 619-3072 and specify which training you are interested in attending. 

The first ‘Know Your Rights’ training will be held in Cantonese. It will take place on Saturday, December 17, 2016 from 9:45am to 11am. Ms. Sophia Luu and Ms. Anita Wu will teach tenants how to get repairs for their apartments.
The second ‘Know Your Rights’ training will be held in Mandarin. It will take place on Saturday, January 21, 2017 from 9:45am to 11am. Ms. Rachel Sun will educate community members on what they need to know for their 2017 tax filing. 

The third ‘Know Your Rights’ training will be held in both Mandarin and Cantonese. It will take place on Saturday, February 18, 2017 from 9:45am to 11am. Mr. Christopher Zheng and Ms. Rong Lin will teach tenants how to get repairs for their apartments.

“Our AABANY volunteers are excited to provide community education at VNSNY to empower Chinatown residents with the confidence and knowledge necessary to assert their legal rights,” said Government Service & Public Interest Committee Co-Chair Anita Wu, who spearheads this series for AABANY.

“AABANY is delighted to be working with Visiting Nurse Service of New York to serve community members in Chinatown in this meaningful way,” says AABANY Executive Director Yang Chen. “Thanks to Anita Wu and our Government Service & Public Interest Committee for engaging our members and constituents in this valuable volunteer opportunity. We also thank Legal Services NYC for providing background training for our volunteers.” 

“We are grateful to the Asian American Bar Association of New York and the speakers for their commitment to give back to the Chinese communities,” said Teresa Lin, Director of Cultural Market Development Initiatives at Visiting Nurse Service of New York. “It’s our great pleasure to partner with AABANY to host a series of the workshops to provide valuable legal information at no cost to the public in our VNSNY Chinatown Community Center.” 

Information on these community trainings will be available on the AABANY website. If you have any questions, reach out to AABANY Government Service & Public Interest Committee Co-Chair Anita Wu at anita.wu@aabany.org.
For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212) 332-2478, or direct any inquiries to main@aabany.org.

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is the New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).


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National Cantonese Language Engagement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a national Cantonese language engagement. Agency representatives will be available to share updates and answer your questions about becoming a U.S. citizen.

Date: Wednesday, August 19 2015
Time: 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EASTERN

• Via teleconference at 1-800-369-1122; Passcode: 9104335
• Via live Web Stream at http://www.uscis.gov/Live/JiaoLiu 

(this link will be live on the day-of the engagement.)

Submit your questions in advance via Twitter to @USCIS or during the event via email to OPE-Live@uscis.dhs.gov

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Email us at public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov and write “Jiao Liu” in the subject line; or to learn more about USCIS resources, please visit us at http://www.uscis.gov/multilingual.


New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)/Total Life Choices (TLC) and Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) Pro Bono Listing for August 2014


(Mandarin and Cantonese Speaker)

Mr. and Mrs. Y are the parents of an autistic child, F.  F is an autistic 18 year-old.  Mr. and Mrs. Y seek assistance with an article 17a guardianship.  Physician affidavits have been completed.  Mr. and Mrs. Y’s primary language is Mandarin and Cantonese, but they are able to understand and communicate in English.  We are seeking a pro bono attorney, preferably an attorney who also speaks Mandarin or Cantonese, to assist Mr. and Mrs. Y on this guardianship matter.

If you are interested in assisting with this matter on a pro bono basis, please send an email to NYLAG Senior Staff attorney and TLC Program coordinator, Tina Janssen-Spinosa, at: tlc@nylag.org and to Samuel Lui at: Samuel.lui@aabany.org


* NYLAG offers mentoring support on most cases we refer to pro bono attorneys, which includes provision of training materials and sample documents, as well as direct consultation  with a NYLAG attorney and review of document drafts.  If no mentoring is available, this will be stated clearly in a matter description.

* NYLAG is required to report the number of hours spent on client matters by our pro bono attorneys, so we ask attorneys who accept client referrals to keep track of their time on cases as well as the amount of any costs incurred on matters.  NYLAG requests reports on hours and costs from our pro bono attorneys on an annual basis, shortly after the end of each fiscal year (June 30th).

* NYLAG’s malpractice insurance policy only extends to volunteer attorneys who work directly under NYLAG’s supervision on matters in which NYLAG itself has been retained as counsel.  Therefore, pro bono attorneys who accept case referrals are responsible for their own malpractice insurance.

* NYLAG provides CLE credit for pro bono service (1 credit per 2 hours of service, up to 10 credits per biennial reporting cycle).  To obtain credit, please contact NYLAG to obtain the necessary forms.

Mandarin/Cantonese Translators Needed

Brooklyn Jubilee is providing free legal services to Coney Island residents, primarily concerning FEMA, housing, public benefits, and insurance questions.  We need Mandarin, Cantonese, Urdu and Russian interpreters all week long, but primarily on Saturdays.  Interpreters will assist attorneys and paralegals conducting new client intake. No legal expertise is required for this volunteer position.

Intake hours are 10-3 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  Intake hours are 2-7 on Thursday.  Interpreters would be appreciated for 2-3 hours of the intake session any day of the week, but especially on Saturdays.  Please contact Executive Director Sandhya Reju Boyd at director@brooklynjubilee.org if interested in volunteering.

Brooklyn Jubilee also provides opportunities for legal volunteers, which requires attendance at a training (next one is scheduled for 2/23).  A follow-up announcement regarding that opportunity will be forthcoming soon.