On June 11, 2017, Housing Works honored Morrison & Foerster with its Tom McGuiness Community Leadership Award. Housing Works recognized the firm and its co-counsel for their work on a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services for failing to accommodate people who suffer from mental illnesses in their applications for General Relief benefits.
One of the primary goals of the lawsuit has been to help reduce homelessness among people with mental illness in Los Angeles County. Many individuals have been effectively denied General Relief assistance, because their disabilities make it impossible for them to complete the application process. The County did not have in place accommodations to ensure that these individuals, some of the most vulnerable in the community, could access life-saving benefits.
The firm co-counseled on this litigation with several nonprofit legal organizations including Public Counsel, Disability Rights Legal Center, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. The MoFo team included senior counsel Charles Barquist, and associates Heriberto Alvarez, Matthew Hofer, Ashleigh Landis, and Ryan Malloy.
The Tom McGuiness Community Leadership Award is presented each year to individuals or groups that fulfill Housing Works’ mission to create housing options for people with limited resources. Tom was a founding board member of Housing Works; his extraordinary example of this spirit is memorialized in this award.