Contact: Rosanne M. Van Heertum
Director of Development, The New YorkBar Foundation

Contact: Nicholas Parrella
Manager of Media Services

January 11, 2010


Four City-Based Legal Aid Organizations Will Use Grants to Educate Tenants and Landlords and Increase Awareness of Tenant Screening Issues

The New York Bar Foundation today awarded four New York City-based legal aid organizations more than $528,000 in grant money to fund tenant screening training and outreach programs in neighborhoods across New York City. The funds were distributed as part of a $1.2 million cy pres class action settlement fund in the case of White v. First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. (04 CV 01611) and will be used for education and awareness projects to be conducted by The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, and the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP).

The awards were presented by The New York Bar Foundation Board of Directors members, Lesley F. Rosenthal, chair of the Foundation's Cy Pres Committee, and Richard Raysman, during a presentation ceremony held at the offices of The Legal Aid Society in Manhattan.

Accepting the grant on behalf of each New York City organization were: April A. Newbauer, Attorney-in-Charge, Queens Civil Practice, The Legal Aid Society; David Robinson, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Services NYC, Legal Support Unit; Louise V. Seeley, Executive Director, City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court; and Josh Zinner, Co-Director, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project.

"It is an exciting time for The New York Bar Foundation to be able to award grants for programs that will assist tenants and landlords with the pressing issues surrounding the tenant screening process. We are pleased that these outstanding organizations are collectively providing the highest quality programs to those affected by this problem," said The New York Bar Foundation President M. Catherine Richardson (Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC, Syracuse).

"The awarding of these cy pres funds provides an excellent opportunity to educate the public and to raise the awareness of those who will most be affected by the tenant screening process," said New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City). "I want to thank the members of The New York Bar Foundation for their outstanding efforts in support of access to justice and for securing this important funding that will afford tenants with additional avenues where they can turn to for legal assistance."

This first round of grants from the $1.2 million fund distributed today by The New York Bar Foundation will be followed by a similar grant award distribution to these organizations in early 2011. The funds will be used to further the goal of increasing awareness of tenant screening and the duties and obligations under fair credit laws, and will enable the recipient organizations to attend and conduct training programs; conduct outreach to community groups, tenants, and small property landlords in the New York City area; and create and distribute educational and training materials about tenant screening issues.

Today's grant awards include $137,428 to City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court; $133,115 to The Legal Aid Society; $122,114 to Legal Services New York City; and $135,808 to Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project.

The New York State Bar Association received its grant of $67,250 on January 6, 2010 in Albany. The award was presented to President Getnick by Cristine Cioffi, a New York Bar Foundation Director and Foundation Director of Development Rosanne M. Van Heertum.

The White v. First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. case was first brought in 2004 as a class action that alleged the defendant had issued thousands of tenant screening reports to prospective landlords that violated the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York Deceptive Practices Act by failing to accurately, completely and clearly disclose information about Housing Court cases brought against New York City tenants. Part of the settlement of the case, which was approved by Southern District of New York Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, included the payment of damages, that will fund these training and education programs.

Founded in 1950, The New York Bar Foundation provides funding through its grant making program to increase public understanding of the law; improve the justice system and the law; facilitate the delivery of legal services; and enhance professional competence and ethics. To learn more about The New York Bar Foundation and how you can support its charitable programs, go to ://">, phone 518-487-5651 or email


Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. For more information, visit us at our Web site at