Community Lawyering and Organizing
At Communities Resist, we take a community-based approach to lawyering. We partner with tenant associations and community based organizations to better understand and advocate for the genuine needs of our community.
Communities Resist is a community-based legal services and advocacy organization established and led by people of color to empower, educate and represent low-income communities and community coalitions preventing gentrification and displacement. Understanding that housing is a human right, the fight for tenants’ rights and housing justice must advance racial, gender, and economic justice.
Our work is deeply rooted in some of the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Communities Resist was born out of a community desire to expand our unique model of anti-displacement legal services, leading the founders to launch a new organization to best represent the changing needs of our neighborhoods.
Our approach in facing the realities of systemic racism and gentrification is to work together as a united front. When tenants organize, they hold the power. Communities Resist, along with our partner CBOs, works to educate and support groups of tenants to organize and work together against their common issues and challenges. Together, tenant associations organize, and then may decide to litigate, against their landlord and bad actors to even the playing field and achieve their united goals.
Our model of legal representation requires close collaboration with the communities we serve. By employing organizing as a key tool to achieve change along with direct legal representation, our organization works to build power with communities of color, not for them.
Intake Officer & Receptionist
Senior Staff Attorney
MALIKA L. GRANVILLE
Head of Communications & Development
Jorge Lema Rodriguez
Director of Litigation
Chief Financial & Operations Officer
Director of Organizing
Sam Chiera began his work assisting low income tenant associations in landlord tenant disputes in 2012, as an intern at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A. Having graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 2014, he returned to BKA to represent groups of tenants in the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick in North Brooklyn. Sam continues this work today as a proud member of Communities Resist.
Working closely with neighborhood-based community organizations, including Los Sures and St Nick’s Alliance, he brings lawsuits on behalf of tenants associations for repairs, and against harassment and discrimination. In addition to litigation, Sam works with legislative campaigns such as Stand for Tenant Safety, the Coalition Against Tenant Harassment, and End Warehousing, to create and promote laws to the benefit of the communities CoRe serves. Sam’s duties expanded to include the supervision of CoRe staff attorneys in 2019.
As a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English Literature. In his past lives, Sam has played guitar and sang, hopped freight trains, swam in a giant fish tank with tropical fish at a bar in Chelsea, and even once lived in a laundromat. Don’t ask him about his time working for a detective in San Francisco. You don’t want to know.
Lina Lee has extensive experience representing low-income immigrant tenants facing eviction, harassment, and housing discrimination in some of the most gentrified neighborhoods in NYC. She has worked closely with tenant and community organizers, played a lead role in community coalitions fighting displacement, and represented numerous tenant associations involved in protracted struggles against predatory landlords. Previously, Ms. Lee served as Deputy Director at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and as a Staff Attorney at the MinKwon Center, where she represented Asian immigrant tenants across NYC in dire need of culturally and linguistically accessible legal services. It was with this perspective in mind that Ms. Lee co-founded Communities Resist.
Lina was recognized in 2021 Nonprofit 40 under 40 by City & State New York. Ms. Lee was also selected to participate in the Coro, Immigration Civic Leadership Program, 2014 Cohort, as a city-wide housing specialist resource and to implement an initiative on language service programs in housing court. She currently serves on the MinKwon Center board. Ms. Lee received her B.S. from Cornell University and J.D. from Boston University School of Law.
Carmen Manzano has dedicated her career towards service in the nonprofit sector. Carmen’s prior nonprofit service includes working as a case manager for displaced hurricane victims, and working with families with children at head start programs. Carmen is a first generation daughter of immigrants, which has fueled her passion to help low-income immigrant families receive the resources they are entitled to. Carmen received a B.S from C.W. Post, Long Island University.
Director of Litigation
Adam Meyers has been advocating for Brooklyn tenants, tenant associations and community groups for almost a decade, and currently oversees all of CoRe’s legal representation as Director of Litigation. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, he now lives in Crown Heights with his wife, two cats, and a dog. Adam is a graduate of St. John’s College and Harvard Law School.
Michelle Perez was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and takes pride in helping her neighbors fight back against displacement by predatory landlords. Before joining Communities Resist, Michelle worked as the Operations Manager at Invictus Preparatory Academy. Michelle wears many hats with CoRe, but the one she is most proud of is being the first voice clients hear while offering guidance in their time of need.
Director of Organizing
Milagros (Millie) Sandoval is the Director of Organizing for Communities Resist. Millie is a fierce fighter for the housing rights of low-income Brooklynites and beyond. Born and raised in Bushwick, Millie has seen firsthand what the impact of gentrification and displacement has created in her community. Millie was personally affected by abusive landlord tactics which makes her so strongly committed to combating displacement and educating tenants on their rights. Also known as the “Lady with the Hat”, Millie makes it her mission to meet the people “where they’re at” and will never be found behind a desk. Rather, you will find Millie out on the streets reaching those in need.
Millie openly shares her personal experiences, which allows her to not only identify with the “people” but also helps create trust with lived experiences on a more personal level. Utilizing hugs, love, and humor, Millie helps organize tenants and creates Tenant Associations when slum landlords refuse repairs, harass, discriminate, and threaten to displace tenants. Millie’s Puerto Rican (Boricua) heritage fuels her passion for making sure the people CoRe serves remain safe, live in dignity, and are informed of their rights. Millie earned a bachelor of arts in anthropology and master’s degree in sociology from the City College of New York (CUNY).
Fran Taveras is a Paralegal with Communities Resist, and has been working in the legal field for the past 18 years. Among other roles, Fran works alongside all CoRe attorneys while preparing for trial.
Fran previously worked at a personal injury law firm for 15 years, before making the switch to helping tenants fight back against displacement in 2018. Fran was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and loves to work in, serve and give back to her very own community.