Advocacy, Benefits & Legal Services (ABLS)


The Advocacy, Benefits & Legal Services program (ABLS) at Advocates Inc. was founded in 1995 to secure housing for homeless mentally ill people. ABLS operates an innovative model to prevent homelessness by addressing the pathways to homelessness. Our program integrates the provision of legal advice, intervention, and mediation with a broad range of activities that address the causes of homelessness, including housing advocacy, referrals to clinical services, and assistance with benefits and entitlements.

Integration of Services

Both the Framingham and Waltham ABLS offices are co-located within Advocates outpatient mental health and substance abuse clinics. Because untreated mental illness is often a pathway to homelessness, and housing and benefits related issues can derail treatment, Advocates' integration of clinical and technical assistance has proven highly effective in ending and averting homelessness for people with disabilities.

Medical-Legal Collaboration

In 2008, in an effort to further the principle of co-location, ABLS formed a partnership with The MetroWest Free Medical Program, creating The Metrowest Medical-Legal Collaboration Project. This new initiative provides comprehensive medical and legal services during walk-in clinic visits. Because legal issues often impede access to care, this integration of medical and legal assistance improves health outcomes while ending or averting homelessness for underserved patients and their families.

Program Information

Who do we serve?
Our services are available to individuals and families in our service area who meet our eligibility criteria. Each year, we serve approximately 1,000 individuals and families.
What is the cost?
Fees are assessed on a case-by-case basis and are SSA contingent.
How are we funded?
ABLS relies on grants, volunteers, and private donations.
What areas do we serve?
Boston Metrowest, Waltham, Newton, Watertown and any Massachusetts community where legal services are not available to people with mental illness and other disabilities

About the Director

Liliana Mangiafico, JD, has served as the Director of the ABLS program of Advocates Inc. for seven years. She has over twenty years experience in public interest and international law. Her education includes four law degrees from Northeastern University, Harvard, the University of Paris, and Catholic University of Venezuela. Liliana speaks several languages, including Spanish.

Services include but are not limited to:

• Legal assistance with evictions, including negotiation and mediation with landlords
• Assistance with housing searches, moving, and budgeting
• Financial assistance with rent and utility arrears for eligible clients
• Representative Payee services for those who require assistance handling funds
• Assistance with benefits applications, including Social Security, MassHealth, food stamps and other entitlement
• Legal assistance appealing denial of benefits
• Referrals to employment services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and other support programs
• Family mediation in situations

If you need legal advice or advocacy assistance, please call us at 508.661.2134.
Advocates Inc., One Clarks Hill, Suite 305, Framingham, MA 01702
508.628.6300 | VP 774.999.0606 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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Supporting you, your loved ones, your friends, Your neighbors...

Advocates provides support services for people with:
  • Mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities or co-occurring mental illness and developmental disability
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Autism and pervasive developmental disabilities
  • Acquired or traumatic brain injury
We also provide support services for:
  • Deaf adults with mental illness or a developmental disability
  • Families who are supporting a family member with a disability
  • Elders living in the community who may have a mental illness or substance abuse disorder
  • Adults with a mental health diagnosis in jail or re-entering the community
  • Youth in transition from foster care
  • Individuals and families who are homeless or at risk for homelessness


How to access services