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August 30, 2014, 12:18 am

Residents gather, get critical legal info

It’s not every day that the Finley Playground has a program that utilizes every chair in the house and lasts for more than two hours over the scheduled end time.

This was the case when the legal workshop was held at the city-run facility located at the corner of Hortter Street and Mansfield Avenue on Saturday. The event was sponsored by state Rep. Cherelle Parker.

For Finley Advisory Council President Walter Marlin it was a complete success. Though it found him continually bringing in every chair he could find in the two-story brick building, he was glad that the information was well received and there were plenty of questions.

“It was supposed to end at noon and it did not end until about 2:15 p.m., so everyone did not clear out of there until about 3 p.m.,” Marlin said. “It went well not only because of the information that was presented, but because there was a lot of legal information, not legal advice, given. Most were seniors, but we did have some middle-age people who were maybe 35, 45 or 55 there as well.”

“Although we don’t like to talk about, or think about, our dying, there is a need for us to rationally begin to plan for our ultimate demise,” said Gerry Sizemore, a longtime Finley Advisory Council member. “Those who attended were interested in property tax information, landlord and tenant information, and I took handouts to my church family to share with them. There was information about the new Voter ID law and the Voter Identification Guide that she (Parker) and her staff prepared.”

Among the agencies on hand were Philadelphia VIP, Tenant Union Representative Network or TURN, Community Legal Services, Equality PA, Military Assistance Programs, the Philadelphia Public Defenders Association, the Public Interest Law Center along with the ACLU, the Mayor’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

Topics included getting disability, veterans’ benefits, the rights of same-sex partners and how to obtain photo identification for voting purposes.

“One of the hot topics that of mortgage foreclosures which was dealt with by Philadelphia VIP,” Marlin said. “A lot of those present had concerns about title transfers, fraud, and conveyance. In fact, really after every single presentation there were so many questions asked when they opened the floor for questions.”

Sizemore agreed. What also surprised her was the fact that when Parker asked how the largely mature crowd heard about the workshop, about 95 of them said it was as a result of an email-blast or robo-call. “Lots of neighbors were not aware that there is a District Attorney’s satellite office in the 7100 block of Ogontz Avenue,” Sizemore said.

The June 2 “Your Right to Know” workshop was the second in a series of legal workshops Parker is hosting, according to Marlin. These workshops will be ongoing and another is tentatively scheduled for some time in July.