In March of 1979, NMIC opened its doors as a legal services organization on 181st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue with a staff of two attorneys and four community organizers. NMIC offered legal services to recent immigrants primarily from the Dominican Republic.

In the first year, NMIC reached 12,000 people providing them with free legal services – at the time NMIC was the only organization offering free legal services in Northern Manhattan. NMIC organized 50 buildings, helped to repair 200 buildings and formed 5 block associations.