As more people need help due to COVID-19, Legal Aid continues to expand
The economic impact of COVID-19 caused more people to become eligible for free legal assistance from The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. As a result, Legal Aid is taking on an increased number of cases, especially in the areas of housing law and employment law. Already, compared to the same time last year, the organization has seen a 25% increase in landlord-tenant cases and a 46% increase in work-related issues such as unemployment.
Legal Aid is open and available to both new and returning clients, offering online intake 24/7 and phone intake during certain business hours. Hundreds have already benefitted from Legal Aid’s assistance and representation during the pandemic.
One person Legal Aid assisted recently is Melissa Benjamin (name changed to protect privacy). Melissa lives with her husband and their three children. She worked as a Lyft driver to make ends meet, but lost her income when Ohio's “stay at home” order took effect in March. Unable to make the family’s mortgage payments, Melissa contacted Legal Aid. Her attorney knew that the CARES Act prevented banks from filing new foreclosures, so she submitted a forbearance request, which was quickly approved. Thanks to Legal Aid’s intervention, the Benjamin family is safe in their home as their payments are deferred, giving them time to save.
Anyone struggling with a legal issue that threatens a basic need such as shelter, income, health, safety, or access to education should contact Legal Aid. A toll-free phone line, 888-817-3777, is available from Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm, and 9:00am to 2:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. To apply for help through online in-take, available 24/7, visit lasclev.org/contact/.
For renters with questions about Ohio housing law and their rights, Legal Aid’s Tenant Information Line is available. Cuyahoga County tenants can call 216-861-5955. Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga and Lorain County tenants, call 440-210-4533.
If you are working or are recently unemployed, call Legal Aid’s Worker Information Line for answers to work-related questions. Leave a message at any time, and a specialist from Legal Aid will return your call within 1-2 business days, between 9:00am and 5:00pm. All Legal Aid services are free of charge.
Development & Communications Associate for The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland