Legal Aid Helps Your 2023 Start Right

By Tonya Sams

It’s time to enjoy the holiday season! 2022 is almost over, but it’s never too early to start getting affairs in order for the new year and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland can help!

Legal Aid has been offering free civil legal services to those with low incomes (up to 200% of the federal poverty guideline) since 1905—the fifth oldest legal aid organization in the United States. Legal Aid not only serves residents in Cuyahoga but also in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties.

Legal Aid can help with:

·         Housing: foreclosure; eviction; landlord/tenant issues; utilities; public housing

·         Work: unemployment compensation; IRS tax issues; sealing criminal records; securing a valid ID or professional license

·         Money: loans (school, payday, auto, debt); public benefits (food stamps, energy assistance, cash assistance, supplemental security income); bankruptcy

·         Family: domestic violence; divorce; custody; immigration; education; estate planning

·         Health: medical bill collection; access to medical records; Medicare and Medicaid; marketplace tax credits and penalties

Legal Aid provides assistance with civil legal issues, but cannot assist with applications for benefits or criminal cases.

Legal Aid attorneys provide one-on-one consultation at Brief Advice Clinics and represent clients at court and administrative hearings. Attorneys also go into the community to educate residents regarding their rights and the services available to prospective clients.

Legal Aid helps clients like Deja (name changed to protect privacy). Deja made her monthly rental payments on time—until the pandemic hit. She had to change jobs and lost a significant amount of income as she struggled to find childcare for her daughter, who was no longer going to school in person.

She fell behind in her rent and soon received an eviction notice. She also owed increasing late fees which were snowballing at $25 per day.

Once connected with Legal Aid, an attorney helped Deja apply for rent assistance through CHN Housing Partners, and her application was approved. Deja’s attorney was then able to negotiate with her landlord to accept that money as back pay plus three months of future rent payments.

Need help? Call Legal Aid at 888-817-3777 during normal business hours or apply online 24/7 at lasclev.org/contact/. Email: outreach@lasclev.org. When speaking with a Legal Aid intake specialist, be sure to have income information and necessary documentation related to the legal issue on hand.

Tonya Sams is the Development and Communications Assistant for The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.