April 2020 COVID-19 Newsletter (Updated 4/20/20)Posted on: April 20, 2020
Today, marks one month since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Louisiana. Our lives have changed in ways that were unfathomable before now. The impact of the pandemic has been especially severe in southeast Louisiana where so many of tens of thousands of people who lost their jobs worked in low-paying jobs, doing gig work, or in the hospitality industry. Before this crisis, they had little money left at the end of each month. Now they’ve survived weeks with no to little income combined with no job prospects. Even people lucky enough to receive Louisiana unemployment benefits have gotten at most only $249 per month, one of the lowest unemployment benefit rates in the country.
While new federal programs created through the CARES Act and changes made through the Governor’s emergency orders will provide relief for many, it may be months before some in our community receive the help they need. Yet day-to-day needs like food, housing, and medical care will not wait for unemployment checks or stimulus funds to arrive. Low-income and other vulnerable residents often bear a disproportionate share of the impacts of disasters as they struggle to make ends meet for their families and keep a roof over heads.
Thanks to supporters like you, SLLS continues to fight hard for the low-income people impacted by COVID-19. Our advocacy helped suspend evictions in both private and publicly funded housing – ensuring that low-income tenants could be safe in their homes during the crisis. Though all evictions in our state are illegal through April 30, 2020, many tenants have contacted us, fearful that they still will end up on the street with some landlords cutting off their utilities, locking them out of their homes, throwing their belongings on the street, and engaging in other threatening actions. We continue to represent these tenants – advocating for them with their landlords and filing restraining orders in court when needed. Your support has made it possible to keep many of the tenants in their homes.
Click on the links below to read more stories about our work and the experiences of the people we serve:
- Motel staff arrested after forcibly evicting long-term tenants in New Orleans East during pandemic (4/3/2020)
- 'I have nowhere to go': New Orleans East motel evicts all residents (4/2/2020)
- Coronavirus could overwhelm legal help for America’s poor (4/2/2020)
- A lot of people are worried about paying rent. City Council and housing organization guidelines help answer questions (4/1/2020)
- New Orleans renters, jobless due to coronavirus, face first of the month: 'It's a grim situation (3/29/2020)
- In Baton Rouge area, coronavirus job losses might result in rental, homeowner crisis (3/23/2020)
- Eviction warning amid coronavirus crisis draws outrage in New Orleans: 'People need help, not harm' (3/18/2020)
- From canceled events to sick days, coronavirus leaves New Orleans hospitality workers vulnerable (3/12/2020)
In addition to providing free legal advice and representation to our clients, SLLS has been working hard to provide reliable legal information to everyone. Federal, state, and local governments are creating new programs, changing program rules, and adjusting procedures quickly to try to curb the effects of the COVID-19. The speed of these changes has resulted in general confusion and rampant public misinformation To address this problem, SLLS has published Know Your Rights resources on several topics available at https://slls.org/news/blog/. We will continue to update and add to these resources throughout the crisis.
SLLS also launched a series of Facebook Live Sessions on COVID-19. You can find the Facebook Live Sessions listed by below by CLICKING HERE. You can also watch the sessions by clicking on the images below.
Foreclosure Protection during COVID-19
Are you a homeowner who lost income because of COVID-19? Are you worried about how you'll make mortgage payments? Are you anxious you might lose your home?
This Facebook Live Session featuring Anthony Sartorio, Managing Attorney of SLLS's Foreclosure Prevention Unit, discusses homeowner's rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can't pay your rent- what should you do? SLLS Staff Attorney Hannah Adams talks about the current state of evictions in Louisiana, what to do if your landlord illegally locks you out, and how to talk to your landlord about April rent.
Avoiding Common Tax Scams
Paul Tuttle, Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, discusses Coronavirus/Covid-19 related tax issues and also avoiding common tax scams.
Have you lost your job because COVID-19? Are you trying to get Louisiana unemployment benefits? SLLS Attorney Julia Jack will discuss how to apply for benefits and what to do if your application is denied. She'll also discuss new benefits available under the CARES ACT.
Current topics are available at https://slls.org/news/blog/ include resources to help:
- Foreclosure Prevention
- People Who Need to Access Food for their Families
- SNAP (Food Stamps)
- March and April Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefit Increase
- Getting and Paying for Food
- Unemployment Compensation
- Tenant's Rights
- Can I be Evicted from a Hotel during COVID-19 (English and Spanish)
- How to Talk to Your Landlord when You Can’t Pay Rent
- People with Disabilities
- Veteran Affairs
- Social Security Benefits
- People worried about Access to Healthcare
- Louisiana Medicaid Cutoffs
- Legal Deadlines During COVID-19
- What does the March 2020 Federal Disaster Declaration Mean for Me?