While the entire country has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Louisiana is reeling from the pandemic's impact. Our economy relies heavily on oil and gas and tourism, two industries that have been devastated by restrictions. Thousands in our community have no stable income, and are on the brink of losing everything. On top of that, hurricane season is in full swing.
We have all watched anxiously as one of the more active hurricane seasons in recent memory has taken aim at southeast Louisiana. On the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are reminded about the long-term challenges our colleagues, family, and friends in southwest Louisiana now face in the wake of Hurricane Laura. SLLS is here to help. Since Hurricane Katrina, we have helped low-income clients navigate through ten presidentially declared disasters. FEMA assistance for Hurricane Laura has already been approved in 6 parishes. Over the years, we’ve gained extensive experience in helping families get access to critical services in the wake of disaster. Whether it is helping clients get access to disaster food stamps, appeal FEMA denials, or fighting contractor fraud, our goal is always to ensure that no one is left behind in the recovery process. We stand ready to assist the over 15,000 evacuees in our service area and to provide support to our partners across the state.
SLLS Fights Unfair Unemployment Benefit Denials
James was laid off his job in Baton Rouge due to COVID-19. He applied for unemployment benefits but was denied due to a small balance from an inadvertent overpayment of benefits years ago. With no income coming in, he was unable to support his family – he couldn’t pay his mortgage, buy food, or pay for other critical expenses. Even after he paid off the balance with funds he borrowed from family, he was still blocked from approval for survival benefits. That's when he turned to us for legal help. An SLLS attorney was able to reach out to the unemployment agency and quickly get his benefits restored with just a few emails. Now James has the critical assistance he needs to stabilize his family while he seeks more permanent employment.
SLLS Receives Grants to Expand COVID-19 Relief
We are excited to announce we have received a new grant from The Bob Woodruff Foundation to address the urgent legal needs of veterans and military service members impacted by Coronavirus.
You can read more about the grant on the foundation's press release here.
SLLS is one of only eleven legal aid organizations to receive a 2020 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Project Grant to strengthen pro bono services. Our project will help low-income tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic who experience security deposit theft have access to free legal assistance.
SLLS seeks volunteers to help with our new Eviction Defense project and our In Forma Pauperis project. If you are interested in volunteering, or want to know more, contact Elena Perez.
Join SLLS and the Pro Bono Project September 16, 2020 at noon to learn how volunteer attorneys can help a family during these trying times. Training and mentorship is provided to all volunteers. Stay tuned for registration information on the SLLS facebook page or Pro Bono Project website.
"Bar Exam" Thank You Week
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to make the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 Baton Rouge and New Orleans "Bar Exam" events. While we won't be able to have the events in person, we didn't want to pass up an opportunity to recognize all of our partners and sponsors who have made the event possible. Follow us on social media all week long and help us thank them for their support in the fight for fairness!