Skip to the content

Special Programs

Veterans Services

Bay Area Legal Services assists more than 1,000 veterans in the Tampa Bay area each year through our veteran support programs and collaborations. Click here for more information about our veterans' legal services.

L. David Shear Children’s Law Center

BALS established The L. David Shear Children’s Law Center (CLC) in 2006, to provide legal representation to children in the Hillsborough County foster care system.  The CLC is named after BALS supporter, attorney L. David Shear, in recognition of his significant contributions to our community and BALS.  Our CLC attorneys receive referrals from various government and social services agencies and are appointed by judges to represent foster children from birth through five years old (and their older siblings). The primary goal of the CLC is to reduce the time that children spend in the foster care system, whether they return to homes that have become stable and safe; they are adopted by loving adoptive parents; or they are given permanent guardians.

The CLC is funded by The Florida Bar Foundation, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, and private donations.  We also receive support from the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation.

Judge Don Castor Community Law Center

The Center was named for BALS’ first executive director, Don Castor, who later became a Hillsborough County judge.  Judge Castor provided funding to BALS to establish a resource center for nonprofit organizations and community groups.  The Center:

  • Provides legal and technical assistance to eligible nonprofits and groups that serve low-income communities and their residents throughout our five- county service area;
  • Matches eligible nonprofits and groups with volunteer attorneys who have expertise in business-related legal issues through the Community Counsel Program; and
  • Coordinates training events for nonprofits and groups.

To apply, please complete the online Client Application Form for incorporated and unincorporated organizations

Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic

BALS’ Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) receives funding from the Internal Revenue Ser­vice (IRS) to provide services when Hillsborough or Pasco County residents have a dispute with the IRS.  Disputes handled by the LITC include:

  • Representation in court
  • Audits
  • Requests to produce documents
  • Tax-related identity theft
  • Innocent/injured spouse matters
  • Levies on income
  • Noncustodial parent matters
  • Responding to IRS notices

We also provide outreach, education, and representation to taxpayers with limited English- language skills, including Spanish and Creole-language populations in our service area.  Although we receive funding from the IRS for our clinic, our staff are completely inde­pendent of the federal gov­ernment.

If you are a taxpayer who cannot afford representation in a tax-related matter and need help understanding your taxpayer rights and responsibilities, you may qualify for free help.

Links to More Information

Fair Housing Initiatives Program

BALS' Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) protects you against housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or handicap. The FHIP was established to enforce fair housing laws throughout Hillsborough County. There are no income requirements for FHIP clients. FHIP services include:

  • Education: Educating clients to recognize and report housing discrimination. We also give fair housing presentations to homeowners’ or tenants’ associations.
  • Investigation: Investigating reports of discrimination and performing testing in some cases to identify unlawful housing discrimination.
  • Enforcement: Using a variety of legal remedies to help fair housing clients, including negotiating settlements, litigation in state or federal court, and filing cases with government agencies.

Links to More Information

If you think you have a fair housing problem or to schedule a fair housing presentation, call 813.634.6044 (1.800.955.8771 /TTY).