Local COVID-19 legal issues have CLE legal aid responding with virtual phone bank

News 5, Legal Aid Society host COVID-19 phone bank
Posted at 2:27 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 07:01:04-04

CLEVELAND — The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland reports the on-going COVID-19 pandemic is creating a host of legal issues now being faced by hundreds of residents here in northeast Ohio.

News 5 and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland are responding, teaming-up for a virtual phone bank to answer COVID-19 legal questions on Friday, April 24, from 4 to 6:30 PM. The number to call our phone bank is 1-800-658-5370.

Editor's note: We are aware that some callers are having trouble getting through on our phone lines. We are working on a solution.

Residents will also be able to get their legal questions answered during a Facebook live on the News 5 Facebook page from 4:30 to 5 PM.

The phone bank is part of News 5's The Rebound: Northeast Ohioinitiative designed to provide crucial information to our viewers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dinola Phillips, staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Clevelandtold News 5 with so many on people laid off and waiting for unemployment, a growing number of tenants are finding it difficult to pay the rent and may be facing eviction.

Phillips said it's crucial tenants, who don't have funds for rent, communicate immediately with their landlord and the courts if they get a summons, and to try to work out a payment plan.

“Get that agreement in writing, whether it’s an actual handwritten note that the landlord signs, or a text message, get some type of documentation," Phillips said.

"Communicate with the court, courts are amending and changing their guidelines and their policies daily, so what may have been the information and guidance last week may have been changed.”

Julie Cortez, attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, told News 5 many are fighting for benefits and are dealing with legal issues and delays during the pandemic.

“I would say right now probably the biggest issue is unemployment and the number of unemployed workers,” Cortez said.

“There’s a lot people in a position where they’ve never had to access unemployment before, so it can be a confusing process.”

“I think there is a lot of frustration, people need money for food, and to pay their bills.”

Legal aid has responded with a coronavirus FAQ, and separate worker and tenant information lines.

The worker information line is 216-861-5899 in Cuyahoga County, call 440-210-4532, if you live in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake or Lorain County.

The tenant information line is 216-861-5955 in Cuyahoga County. Call 440-210-4533, if you live in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake or Lorain County.