MidPenn Legal Services is a non-profit, public interest law firm that provides high quality free civil legal services to low-income residents and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in 18 counties in Central Pennsylvania.
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News & Notes
October 7, 2021 – A toll-free legal aid helpline is now available for victims of Hurricane Ida and the resultant damage in Pennsylvania. The service, which allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer, is a partnership between Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, MidPenn Legal Services, Inc, North Penn Legal Services, Inc., Philadelphia Legal Assistance Center, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Low-income survivors facing legal issues may call 877-429-5994, the assistance helpline activated by Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The helpline will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and messages can be left 24/7. Callers should identify that they are seeking storm-related legal assistance, and should identify the county in which they are located and their legal problems. Callers will then be routed to the correct legal aid organization based on their location. Survivors who qualify for assistance will be matched with Pennsylvania lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help.
Harrisburg, Pa. -- The Pa. Department of Human Services (DHS) is reminding those still unable to pay rent, a direct result from the COVID-19 pandemic, that programs are still available for renters and landlords to help.
Acting DHS Secretary Meg Snead addressed the recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court that struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s nationwide moratorium on evictions in counties with substantial or higher COVID-19 transmission.
“We are once again in a period of great danger to health and well-being due to rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant. The CDC’s eviction moratorium has allowed people to remain housed – a basic need that is essential to keeping people safe as cases continue to rise in Pennsylvania and around the country. Without this moratorium, individuals and families may face imminent eviction as enhanced unemployment benefits lapse, the school year begins, and COVID-19 cases continue to rise," said Snead.
Pennsylvania Capital-Star - In the wake of COVID-19’s economic devastation, and with the eviction moratorium phasing out across Pennsylvania, many Pennsylvanians are wondering if they will be able to keep a roof over their heads after losing incomes during the pandemic, even among those lucky enough to be back to work at full pre-pandemic pay.
One essential tool for preventing eviction is legal representation, which preserves the rights of tenants and helps landlords and tenants come to successful resolutions that avoid displacement and prevent homelessness. It has been shown time and time again that legal aid is key to the health of our economy. It only makes sense for Pennsylvania to use a portion of its federal Fiscal Recovery Funds to pilot a universal access to counsel program.
Legal aid is sorely needed to prevent the incoming tidal wave of evictions. Here is but one example: A young mother in Lawrence County, like hundreds of thousands of others throughout Pennsylvania, fell behind on her rent in 2020. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her partner was unable to find stable employment – only odd jobs that provided barely enough to buy food for their children and diapers for their newborn baby. Her federal stimulus check took months to arrive. Her landlord knew that he couldn’t evict her and her family for nonpayment of rent because of the eviction moratorium, so he attempted to evict them for alleged lease violations – a past due water bill (although it was in her name, not the landlord’s) and temporarily denying the landlord access to the house to make a non-emergency repair, so she could protect her immunocompromised newborn from exposure to anyone outside the family.