Rachel Chazin Halperin, an attorney who has worked on domestic violence issues for most of her career, has been named chief program officer of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
Halperin will supervise eight offices, special projects, the intake unit and grant initiatives.
“There’s more need for our services than ever,” Halperin said. “People are struggling in the Hudson Valley.”
She said 570,000 people who are at or below 200 percent of federal poverty level are eligible for its services.
The organization provides free legal services to people who cannot afford representation. Homelessness and domestic violence issues account for 70 percent of the caseload, said Tom Gabriel, chief development officer. Those issues overlap, in that they contribute to one another and breaking the cycle is a cost-effective way to get people back on their feet.
“The challenge always becomes using our resources in the most efficient way to serve the most people,” Halperin said.
The organization also takes on legal issues where other basic human needs are at stake, such as disabilities, children’s law, elder law, health care and consumer fraud. Last year it handled more than 16,500 cases.
Halperin said there is a lot of uncertainty about federal funding, which along with state and local government funds accounts for 94 percent of the budget.
Halperin joined Legal Services in 2014 as deputy director. Previously, she was executive director of domestic violence programs at HELP USA, legal director of My Sisters’ Place and an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. She serves on the board of New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
She received a law degree and a master’s in social work from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Barbara Finkelstein is the CEO of Legal Services, a $16 million nonprofit organization that employs 130 people, including 85 lawyers, in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties.