Avon resident Jennifer Kinsley offers legal help to those in need

Avon resident Jennifer Kinsley has been named one of Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood’s “Champions of Central” for 2020 in recognition of her work at the Legal Aid Society.

Erin R. Horan, development and communications associate for the Legal Aid Society, said Kinsley received the award for “providing life-changing civil legal assistance for people facing threats to their safety, shelter and economic security. The Champions awards are given annually to individuals who make significant contributions to the vibrancy of the Central neighborhood.”

As a senior attorney in Legal Aid’s Health and Opportunities Practice Group, Kinsley manages the organization’s medical-legal partnership with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, serving clients who are also patients at the hospital.

“This year, Jennifer has gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist her clients during the coronavirus pandemic,” Horan said.

Horan said Kinsley “supplemented her casework with advocacy on local and statewide committees to protect the rights of the unhoused. She also made it her mission to increase public awareness of social service agency protocols and procedures in light of social distancing measures and office shutdowns.”

Kinsley was honored along with her nine fellow 2020 Champions at the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood Virtual Community Meeting and Celebration on Dec. 16.

Kinsley was later asked several questions about her work.

How is “unhoused” different from homeless?

“Unhoused or unsheltered are terms more preferred by individuals who do not have a stable place to call home. This could refer to people who are staying with friends, couch surfing, living in bus shelters, on trains or in vacant buildings or encampments. In order to be inclusive of all individuals without a safe place to call their own, we refer to this population as unhoused or unsheltered.”

What does “increase public awareness of social service agency protocol and procedures in light of social distancing” mean?

“Many individuals who are low-income and/or unhoused rely heavily on social service agencies for meals, showers, medications, shelter and other basic life needs. When COVID-19 hit, procedures, hours and policies for these organizations changed drastically.

“For example, because those who are unhoused may lack access to the internet or phones, the message about changes to these systems was not reaching those who needed them most. We worked with several organizations to make sure that unhoused individuals were getting updated information as it became available for how they could safely address all of their needs.”

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