REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS - Disaster Legal Services Project & Adult Learning Content Developer Consultant

Brief Overview

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) seeks the services of an independent project consultant to assist it in supervising our recently awarded almost $6.5 million three year Disaster Legal Services (DLS) grant from the Legal Services Corporation. This work also includes a subcomponent with primary responsibility for creating content working with our staff for our Adult Learning Management System and to implement our new Adult Learning Management System. The goals of our DLS project and our subcomponent project is to provide high quality legal assistance to disaster survivors and to help better prepare SLLS to respond to disasters.

Introduction to SLLS

SLLS provides free legal assistance to indigent and other vulnerable people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. We protect their livelihoods, health, housing and families. Through legal representation, we are able to assure fairness for our clients as they navigate through the civil justice system. SLLS works to combat the inequities and disproportionate impacts faced by marginalized communities of color.

SLLS is the largest nonprofit civil legal services provider in Louisiana serving 50% of the state’s poverty population in twenty-two parishes across southeast Louisiana. Pre-pandemic, Louisiana had the third highest poverty rate in the United States, the second highest rate of women killed by their intimate partner, the highest rate of mass incarceration in the world disproportionately impacting marginalized communities, was consistently noted as one of the unhealthiest states, and had the second highest rate of food insecure seniors. We have been struck by ten presidentially declared natural disasters since 2005’s catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, the BP Oil Spill, and the people we serve have been particularly hard-hit by the impact of COVID-19 due to our economic reliance on the hospitality and oil and gas industries and Hurricane Ida.

During the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of Ida, SLLS has fought for the rights of vulnerable people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, provided safeguards to domestic violence survivors, protected the livelihood of disaster victims and assisted renters who were facing eviction.  SLLS has won significant appellate cases protecting thousands of vulnerable people through eviction defense and child in need of care work, and engaging in successful policy advocacy with government agencies administering housing assistance, child protection programs, and unemployment benefits. Our 2021 case work for individual households resulted in over 30,000 people being helped through free legal aid to protect their lives, homes, and families with a direct economic impact to them through our work of over $28.5 million.

Pre-pandemic, SLLS had about 100 team members on staff. Since COVID, we have grown to have almost 175 employees, seven offices, staff embedded onsite with other partners such as hospitals, medical clinics, homeless shelters, domestic violence victim service centers, community colleges, and robust pro bono partnerships. We have almost 100 different funding sources though LSC funding is about 45% of our budget with another almost 30% from the Louisiana Bar Foundation. In response to the effects of COVID-19 on housing, we have hired 14 additional attorneys to represent people who are facing eviction and 15 new staff to represent vulnerable populations affected by natural disasters.

Request for Proposals

Purpose of RFP

SLLS seeks an independent project consultant to participate in the management of SLLS’s Disaster Legal Services grant and to assist in developing training resources for staff.  SLLS understands the importance of analyzing and adapting our resources to fit the needs of our growing organization. Our goal is to improve SLLS’s ability to respond to the legal needs of disaster survivors and to better prepare the agency to respond to future disasters internally and as part of our broader statewide civil legal aid justice community.

Deliverables

In this two pronged role, the consultant we are seeking will assist SLLS in managing our DLS Project and will have primary responsibility for our Adult Learning Content Development (ALCD) Project as a subcomponent of our DLS Project. We expect the selected consultant will need to dedicate significantly more time to accomplishing our project plan goals during the first 12 months of the project with the level of effort being significantly less during 2024 and by 2025 minimal work to be done. The rationale for this is that as the major deliverables under the contract are achieved, the work effort needed to supervise and implement the project will be less.

Disaster Legal Services (DLS) Project

In the DLS role, the consultant will provide general supervision, diligent monitoring, and reporting on the usage of SLLS’ DLS grant to ensure that it aligns with our grant performance plan. The full performance plan with tasks already completed to date is attached to this Request for Proposal as Attachment A. The consultant will have primary responsibility for issuing, coordinating, implementing, and supervising Goal 2, Objective 1, Milestone 8 regarding SLLS’ Adult Learning Management System described in more detail in the next section and Goal 3, Objective 3, Milestones 1-4 to help SLLS create an outreach plan using media and to secure a technology consultant to ensure disaster survivors have access to legal services. The selected consultant for the instant RFP will report directly to the Executive Director regarding progress on the DLS Project general oversight, supervision, and progress on deliverables.

All decisions pertaining to the management of the grant are rooted in and reflective of the Goals, Objectives, and Milestones agreed upon by SLLS and LSC. The grant term of our project is 7/1/2022-6/30/2025. The goals and objectives of the DLS project are below which our detailed Project Plan referenced in Attachment A fleshes out in more detail.

DLS Goals and Objectives:

  • Provide advice and legal representation to address disaster-related legal issues for low-income survivors.
    • Direct Services –Sustain and Increase Level of Direct Assistance through 30 essential disaster response staff
    • Provide training and support to disaster staff to facilitate their skills and ability to deliver direct legal assistance to disaster survivors
  • Enhance legal aid capabilities to better serve survivors of 2020-2021 declared disasters.
    • Improve SLLS’ disaster resilience through improved technology and software
    • Transition SLLS’ current case management system to a new case management system to better serve 2020-2021 disaster survivors
  • To provide outreach and education to the survivors of the 2020-2021 declared disasters.
    • Outreach and Community Education – Expand outreach and knowledge for survivors of the 2020 and 2021 disasters
    • Improve SLLS’ intake/outreach process to better serve disaster survivors.
    • Develop and implement an outreach plan using media and technology to ensure disaster survivors have access to legal services.

Adult Learning Content Developer (ALCD)

In the ALCD subcomponent of the DLS Project, the consultant will identify, collect, revise, create, design, test, and integrate resources into SLLS’ Learn Upon Learning Management System working in close collaboration with in-house staff subject matter experts (SME). This  work involves breaking down often complex concepts into fundamental pieces and weaving them into engaging learning segments to create learning modules that are easily understood and digested for use by legal aid staff and partners. Major duties in this subcomponent include:

  • Establish and maintain collaborative working relationships with staff, volunteers, and other key stakeholders
  • Facilitate engagement with stakeholders from multiple sectors and audiences
  • Coordinate resources and helping design learning pathways for the learning management system such as videos, power points, graphic design tools, and other resources
  • Work with SLLS staff to implement a testing and evaluation period for LMS resources
  • Collaborate closely and professionally with SME’s to ensure they provide content in a timely fashion and/or work with SME’s to revise already created content
  • Work with our LMS vendor to address and resolve any LMS issues
  • Implement instructional design best practices to create/revise SME content into well-organized, bite-sized chunks with the adult learner at the center
  • Create appropriate interactions in each lesson/module to keep staff engaged while learning for retention
  • Convene planning meetings with necessary SLLS staff and partners
  • Collect documentation for the project
  • Assisting in preparing a project plan and grant progress reports
  • Assist in making presentations to SLLS staff, volunteers, and partners as needed

Reporting Deadlines for DLS Grant

Progress and fiscal reports are due to the funder on the below schedule:

Reporting Period 7/1/2022-12/31/2022  -  Due 1/31/2023

Reporting Period 1/1/2023-6/30/2023    -  Due 7/31/2023

Reporting Period 7/1/2023-12/31/2023  -  Due 1/31/2024

Reporting Period 1/1/2024 – 6/30/2024  - Due 7/31/2024

Reporting Period 7/1/2024- 12/31/2024  - Due 1/31/2025

Reporting Period 1/1/2025-6/30/2025     - Due 7/31/2025

Cost

Interested consultants can submit a cost proposal on an hourly rate with an estimate of hours needed to complete tasks or by using a project based method. Please propose a payment schedule for your work under the project.

Inquiries/Contact Information

Questions about this RFP may be directed Laura Tuggle, SLLS Executive Director at (504) 529-1000 ext. 270 or ltuggle@slls.org.

Timeline

  • Issue RFP: 9/26/2022
  • Proposals Due to Executive Director: 10/23/2022
  • Award of Contract: 11/1/2022
  • Project Implementation: 11/01/2022-6/30/2025

Proposal Delivery and Due Date

Proposals are due on or before 10/26/2022. Delivery of proposals should be made electronically to Laura Tuggle at ltuggle@slls.org with “SLLS “DLS & ALCD Proposal” in the subject line. PDF is preferred. If you have large file size items, please provide a file sharing link with instructions for accessing the proposed materials.

Evaluation Criteria and Award of Contract

SLLS may elect to schedule a conference call with potential consultants prior to awarding a final contract. We anticipate conference calls will be scheduled between 10/25-10/26/2022. Please include contact information for scheduling purposes in the RFP.

Proposals will be evaluated upon the contractor’s responsiveness to the RFP, qualifications, demonstrated experience with similar projects, and total price quoted for all items covered by the RFP. Award of the contract resulting from the RFP will be based upon the most responsive contract that is most advantageous to SLLS in terms of cost, functionality, experience, and quality of past work.

SLLS ideally seeks a firm that understands its needs as a nonprofit and legal services organization and is invested in our mission of achieving justice and social change by fighting poverty.

SLLS reserves the right to accept or reject any and all proposals and to waive any minor discrepancies or technicalities in the proposal or specifications, when deemed to be in the best interest of SLLS. We also reserve the right to negotiate with all respondents to the RFP and reject any or all offers and discontinue this RFP process without obligation or liability to any respondent.

Cost of Proposals

SLLS will not pay any costs associated with preparing proposals in response to this RFP.

You can download this Request for Proposals here.

We are pleased to present you the 2021 Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) annual report. Every year, we reflect back on the difference our work makes in the daily lives of the people and communities we serve. The devastating impact of Hurricane Ida on our clients has made our work more important than ever. With lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and the 10 presidentially declared disasters that followed, we hit the ground running providing critical legal aid in some of the hardest hit areas through community-based disaster legal clinics. To date we have helped over 4,000 people but the recovery process is far from over. Your support has made an incredible difference in making sure the most vulnerable people are not left behind in the recovery process. We are grateful for your leadership in the fight for fairness.
In 2021, SLLS delivered legal help in individual cases to over 14,000 households composed of over 31,000 people. The economic impact of our work topped $28.5 million. Every dollar invested in civil legal aid generated nearly $9.18 of social return on investment. Some results have no price tag, such as lives saved through our work with domestic violence victims or children protected from abuse. Thousands more Louisianans benefitted from our policy advocacy work fighting for equity such as in the rollout of COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida relief programs. Thousands of people obtained vital legal information from our SLLS website blog about hot topics like how to fight contractor fraud, appeal your FEMA claim, and other urgent recovery matters. Pro bono attorneys and volunteer law students helped us expand the availability of legal aid throughout our twenty-two parish service area.

On behalf of the clients we serve and the team at SLLS, thank you again for your staunch support. It means more now than ever. We hope this report is useful in helping you learn more about how your investment in justice is making an impact. For more frequent updates about our work, like us on Face Book. Or you can always call (504) 529-1000 ext. 270 or email me at ltuggle@slls.org to talk about our program. Thank you again for helping us help others.

Sincerely,

Laura Tuggle
Executive Director

For Immediate Release
Date: March 25, 2022
Contact: Laura Tuggle, ltuggle@slls.org, 504-529-1000 x 270

New Orleans Attorney Named President of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Board of Directors

Lauren Bridges, a New Orleans attorney with Liskow & Lewis, has been named as the 2022 President of the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) Board of Directors. Bridges serves on the Board as a representative of the Jefferson Parish Bar Association.

“For over 50 years, SLLS as an organization has done so much wonderful work for the community in providing increased access to justice for all, and I want to do what I can to help continue this mission and spread awareness about the organization,” said Bridges. “I feel so lucky for this opportunity to work alongside such a dynamic and hard-working team and Board. We are all still navigating a new normal after Covid, and the need for civil legal aid on issues facing our community continues to be in great demand—including eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, and assistance for veterans and abused/neglected children, just to name a few.”

Other recently appointed officers include: Vice President Vivian B. Guillory, attorney Baton Rouge Bar Association; Assistant Vice President Emma Dixon, retired, Washington Parish NAACP; Secretary Christopher Ralston, attorney, Phelps Dunbar; Treasurer Ryan Ours, attorney, Entergy; Assistant Treasurer Regina Joseph, representing Jefferson Parish CAP Agency.

The remaining members of the Board of Directors are: Lila Arsan, retired, Lafourche Community Action; Mary Barrios, Law Office of Mark Heck Barrios, LLC; Camille Bryant, McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC; Kerrie Hart, Southeast Spouse Abuse Program; Teresa King, Teresa King, Esquire, LLC; Brandt Lorio, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc.; Warren McKenna, III, The McKenna Firm; Dorric Middleton, Capital Area Agency on Aging; Paul Tabary, Tabary & Borne, LLC; Michael Victorian, Phelps Dunbar; Claudette Warren, City-Wide Tenant Council.

About Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) fights for fairness in the justice system. It provides free, civil legal aid to low-income people in six offices, across 22 parishes in southeast Louisiana. Our six offices are located in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Harvey, Houma, and New Orleans. Our mission is to achieve justice for low-income people in Louisiana by enforcing and defending their legal rights through free legal representation, advocacy, and community education. For more information about SLLS, visit www.slls.org and follow us on Facebook (@SLLShelps).

SLLS is seeking proposals for professional consulting services for a technology and cybersecurity assessment and audit. The consultant will:

  • Complete a technology assessment and audit for SLLS operations. 
  • Complete an information technology (IT) assessment and security audit for SLLS’ operations. 
  • Deliver a report with the vendor/consultant’s findings and recommendations. 
  • Help SLLS develop an implementation plan and relevant information technology practices and policies in response to the recommendations and findings of the assessments and IT security audit. 

This Request for Proposal is made possible from a grant from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant. The estimated upper limit for the vendor portion of this project is $29,495. 

The deadline for submissions of proposals is Monday, March 7, 2022 by 6:00 PM Eastern/5:00PM Central. 

You can view the full request for proposals here.

For questions, please contact:
Lisa J. Stansky
Technology Initiatives and Special Projects Manager Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
lstansky@slls.org
504.529.1000 ext. 279 

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Marilyn* received a Road Home Program grant after Hurricane Katrina to elevate her home, but along the way life happened and she lost the home to foreclosure in 2011. To add insult to injury, she was sued by the program for failure to elevate a home she no longer owned.

 

Unemployed and facing a debt of over $38,000 she turned to SLLS for assistance. With years of experience working on Road Home cases, her attorney was able to file an answer that showed she used the funds for repairs to the home and the debt was cleared this year.

 

16 years after Hurricane Katrina we are still receiving calls from clients struggling with the bureaucratic nightmares that come with the recovery process. With extensive damage in some of the most underserved portions of our service area, we know the Hurricane Ida recovery will be a long haul, but we have the team we need to get through this thanks to your continued support.

 

You still have time to make an immediate impact on Hurricane Ida survivors in 2021 with a tax-deductible gift by December 31st. We are getting close to our year-end goal to raise $20,000! You can make your year-end gift at www.slls.org/donations

 

Sincerely,

Laura Tuggle

Executive Director

*Some information about our client has been change to protect their identity.

On October 15, 2021 SLLS filed an intervention in a foreclosure action by Fannie Mae against five multifamily rental properties owned by LLC's controlled by Joshua Bruno of Metrowide Apartments. The purpose of the intervention is to support Fannie Mae's action to have the properties transferred to a third-party management company. SLLS's clients urge the Court to enforce the appointment of a new management company because the properties present imminent health and safety concerns due to years of deferred maintenance and mismanagement.

You can read the petition here.

A selection of photos included in the petition are below:

 

Squalid Living Conditions
Squalid Living Conditions
Squalid Living Conditions
Squalid Living Conditions
Squalid Living Conditions
Squalid Living Conditions

We are pleased to send you the 2020 Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) annual report. Every year, we reflect back on the difference our work makes in the daily lives of the people and communities we serve. The devastating impact of the pandemic on our clients has made our work more important than ever. COVID-19 has presented SLLS with its biggest in challenge yet in creating new and innovative programs to meet the surge in demand to prevent evictions, to stop foreclosues, to combat domestic violence, untangle unemployment benefits, and more. Your support has made an incredible difference in all that we do to stabilize vulnerable families. We are grateful for your leadership in the fight for fairness.

In 2020, SLLS delivered legal help in individual cases to over 14,000 households composed of over 25,000 people. The economic impact of our work topped $22 million. Every dollar invested in civil legal aid generated nearly $9.18 of social return on investment. Some results have no price tag, such as lives saved through our work with domestic violence victims or children protected from abuse. Thousands more Louisianans benefitted from our policy advocacy work fighting for equity such as in the rollout of COVID-19 relief programs. Over 725,000 people obtained vital legal information from our SLLS websiste blog about hot topics like stimulus checks, pandemic unemployment, eviction moratoria, advance child care tax credits, and other urgent matters. Pro bono attorneys and volunteer law students helped us expand the availability of legal aid throughout our twenty-two parish service area.

On behalf of the clients we serve and the team at SLLS, thank you again for your staunch support. It means more now than ever. We hope this report is useful in helping you learn more about how your investment in justice is making an impact. For more frequent updates about our work, like us on Face Book. Or you can always call (504) 529-1000 ext. 270 or email me at ltuggle@slls.org to talk about our program. Thank you again for helping us help others.

Sincerely,

Laura Tuggle
Executive Director

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From the Executive Director

May is Older Americans Month and this year’s theme is “Communities of Strength.” Senior citizens have been one of the highest risk groups throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, not only for contracting the coronavirus, but for falling victim to schemes seeking to take advantage of vulnerable people. SLLS provides a range of legal services aimed to protect senior citizens. Our attorneys assist seniors with legal issues like foreclosure prevention assistance with reverse mortgage lenders, wills/successions, and consumer problems like scams that threaten their financial security. We also bring legal education to libraries across our service areas to make information accessible to seniors who are not tech savvy.  With access to the civil legal aid when they need it most, our seniors can remain strong and resilient members of the community.

 

Laura Tuggle

Executive Director

SLLS Helps Senior Citizens Get Stability

 
 

Roberta, a senior citizen undergoing cancer treatment, got behind on her mortgage and was facing foreclosure. By the time she was referred to SLLS for help, it was almost too late. The mortgage lender had hired their own attorney, and added thousands of dollars in extra fees to her debt. Her SLLS attorney acted quickly to begin the process to reinstate her mortgage. With our help, she was approved for $10,000 in mortgage assistance from Catholic Charities. Through the swift and diligent work of SLLS, her foreclosure was prevented. Now Roberta can focus on her health recovery in her own home.

 
 

Lionel, a 70-year-old man living in a homeless shelter, reached out to SLLS for assistance getting access to his social security benefits. With no permanent address or phone number he was unable to get a debit card. His attorney tried to submit documentation, so he could access the funds, but the bank would not accept the shelter address. Because he was too frail to travel by bus alone, his attorney took him to the bank. They discovered he already had an account and that $1,830 was being deposited into his account monthly. He had over $10,000 saved and had no idea it was there! Since he had not been receiving any mail at the homeless shelter, he had lost track of the account. With this income and savings he’ll be able to get out of the shelter and into permanent housing.

SLLS Wins Big at LSBA Pro Bono Publico and Children’s Law Awards

Andrea Jeanmarie

Dr. Kathleen Crapanzano

Christopher Ralston

SLLS Child in Need of Care (CINC) Unit

L-R: Mary Ann Swaim, Alexandra Kamp, Rella Zaplatel, Kirby Kenny, Josephine Vanderhorst, Managing Attorney, Emily Aucoin, and Natalie Paul.

SLLS was well represented at the Louisiana State Bar Association's 2021 Pro Bono Publico and Children's Law Awards! Congratulations to our Child in Need of Care Unit, Children's Law Award; Andrea Jeanmarie, managing attorney of our Westbank office, Career Public Interest Award; Dr. Kathleen Crapanzano, SLLS Homeless One Stop Legal Clinic, Friend of Pro Bono Award; Christopher Ralston, SLLS Board Member, David A. Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award; and our Northshore Pro Bono program volunteers Patricia Bonneau, Frances Strayham, & Ana Lopez, Pro Bono Publico Awards.

SLLS Providing Services in New Sexual Assault Center

Pictured above at the Washington Parish Sexual Assault Center grand opening are SLLS staff members Paula Charles, Theresa Robertson and Camille Kinsey.

SLLS will be providing legal services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault at the new satellite location of the Washington Parish Sexual Assault Center. An SLLS staff members will be on-site at the center on Mondays from 9 am to 4 pm. You can learn more about the center here.

New on the SLLS Blog!

The SLLS blog has lots of information on changes to COVID-19 benefit programs, new tax credits, rental assistance and much more. Check it out at www.slls.org/blog.

 
Why Your Unemployment Benefits May By Ending Soon
 
 
New Income Help for Families With Children
 

SLLS in the News

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.
If you have been unable to pay your utilities during the Covid-19 crisis, you may be eligible for assistance to help cover your past-due bills. If you are applying for the statewide Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program, you can also apply for assistance to cover past-due utilities, including: electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and fuel oil.
  • If you are still in the process of applying for the Rental Assistance Program, you can add your utility requests directly to your application. Instructions are available here.
  • If you have already submitted your application, you can request utilities assistance by submitting a "Utilities Assistance Ticket" using your online application portal. Instructions can be found here. This must be done by June 7, 2021.
Eligible renters can get help paying overdue utility bills as far back as April 2020. Assistance is available for current utility charges, past-due utility bills, and for reconnection and late fees. You can get assistance covering up to 15 months of bills in total.
*If you are a resident of Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans or St. Tammany Parish, you cannot apply for the statewide program and must apply directly to the program in your parish.
  • East Baton Rouge Parish residents can apply for rental assistance here. Information on whether utilities assistance will also be provided through this program will be added as it becomes available.
  • Jefferson Parish residents can apply for rental assistance here.  Utilities assistance is not available this time, but may become available in the future.
  • Orleans Parish residents can apply for rental assistance here. Information on whether utilities assistance will also be provided through this program will be added as it becomes available.
  • St. Tammany Parish residents can apply for rent and utility assistance. To apply, you must schedule an appointment by calling 985-898-3016 or emailing STRAP@stpgov.org.
You may be eligible for the statewide rental assistance program if you meet all of the following:
  • You reside in a rental unit in one of the 57 parishes covered by the state-administered program and meet certain income requirements for your area.
  • At least one individual in your household qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to COVID-19.
  • You have received a past-due rent notice, a past-due utility notice, or an eviction notice.
What if I am not applying for rental assistance or the parish I live in is not currently providing utilities assistance? Are there other programs I can get utilities assistance from? Yes. You may be eligible for utilities payment assistance through the federally-funded program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). In general, you may be eligible for the program if your household income is equal to or less than these amounts:
Number of People in Your HouseholdAnnual Household IncomeAverage Monthly Income
1$24,792$2,066
2$32,424$2,702
3$40,056$3,338
4$47,676$3,973
5$55,308$4,609
6$62,940$5,245
7$64,368$5,364
8$65,796$5,483
9$67,224$5,602
10$68,664$5,722
You will also need to provide:
  • Recent copies of your utility bills
  • Copies of the last four consecutive check stubs for employed household members
  • Proof of other benefits you receive, including: Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and Pension Funds.
  • Disconnect notice (if you received a shut-off notice from your energy company)
  • Proof of present address (rent receipt, lease or deed, etc.)
  • Driver’s license or picture ID of head of household and their Social Security card
  • Proof of total members living in your household and their Social Security cards
  • Additional information may be required
Assistance is not guaranteed. More information on the program, including where to apply, can be found here. Additional assistance may also be available through this program for those who are experiencing difficulty paying their utility bills due to Covid-19. Eligible applicants will receive a $600 benefit for their heating and cooling bills. To apply, contact your local community action agency. You can find a list of local agencies here. You will also need to provide the identification and income documents listed above and a copy of your heating and cooling bills for one month (not older than six months).
If you live in New Orleans, you may be able to get a deferred payment plan from Entergy, which will allow you up to a year to pay your current bill and/or your unpaid balance. You can request a payment plan by calling 1-800-368-3749 or by making the request online on your “myEntergy” account.
If you live in Jefferson Parish, you may be able to get utilities assistance from the Jefferson Community Action Programs. To apply, you must submit:
  • Your Louisiana driver’s license or State I.D.
  • Each household member’s Social Security card
  • Copies of the last four consecutive check stubs for employed household members
  • Proof of other benefits you receive, including: Food Stamps, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and Pension Funds.
  • Proof of address, such as a current utility bill or any other bill from the last 30 days
You can apply by scheduling an appointment at these locations: Dorothy B. Watson Community Center 1300 S. Myrtle Street Metairie, LA 70003 Telephone: (504) 736-6480 Hazel Rhea Hurst Community Center   1121 S. Causeway Blvd. Jefferson, LA 70121 Telephone: (504) 838-4277
If you live outside of Baton Rouge or New Orleans and are behind on your utility bills, your provider should be contacting you to establish a reasonable repayment plan. Please note, if your utilities provider is unable to get in contact with you, you will still be responsible for the past-due amount and your utilities may still be disconnected. Your utilities provider cannot charge you late fees or interest for bills that were unpaid from March 20, 2020 through July 16, 2020. Your provider is also prohibited from making negative credit reports for these unpaid balances. These measures, particularly about late fees, interest, and negative credit reporting, have not been established in Baton Rouge and New Orleans at this time.
Can my utilities be cut off if I haven’t been able to pay due to Covid? Yes. If you are behind on your payments, your utilities may be disconnected. You should try to work out a payment plan with your utilities provider and get any payment plan in writing. Once you are able to, be sure to pay your utility bills on time to avoid a disruption in service. For those living in New Orleans, the Sewerage & Water Board is moving towards resuming shut offs for non-payment. While a plan isn't in place yet, the Swerage & Water Board will be offering payment plans if you are far behind on your past due water bills.
The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

The state may drop pandemic unemployment benefits.

At least 26 states have decided to stop paying the federal unemployment that has helped millions of American workers during the pandemic. This includes $300 a week that is currently being added to unemployment checks. It also can include “PUA”—the benefits for workers who are not usually eligible for unemployment benefits (like people whose earnings are not reported on W2, people with little work history, and people caring for children due to Covid closures).

Governor Edwards will end at least the extra $300 a week in Louisiana on July 31.

There are also other reasons why your unemployment benefits may end.

Your unemployment benefits may end if you are offered a job, but refuse it.

You can lose unemployment benefits if you do not have a very good reason for refusing to accept work when it is offered to you, whether it is your old job or a new one.

If your employer calls you to return to work and you refuse, they can report you to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The agency makes this easy for employers to do. This may disqualify you from receiving unemployment benefits. You may also have to pay back any benefits you received in the time after you refused to return to work.

You can appeal and seek representation from Southeast Louisiana if the work offer does not pay close to what you recently earned or is otherwise not “suitable” for you given your background. Call our Covid-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to apply for free legal assistance or fill out our online application here.

A job should be considered not suitable if it is not following Covid-related health and safety requirements, such as social distancing or not requiring those who may have Covid to stay home.

Your unemployment benefits may end if the Louisiana Workforce Commission determines you are and always have been ineligible for benefits.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission is going back on hundreds (and maybe even thousands) of people’s unemployment claims and determining they have always been ineligible for benefits and should not have been awarded any. In these cases, the agency is also requiring claimants to pay back all of the money they received—usually over $10,000.

The agency should not cut off your benefits without sending you a notice (a letter sent to your HIRE account or hardcopy letter to the address you have on file) and without offering you a hearing.

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services can often help on these cases, but it can take several months to get these issues corrected. You can apply for free legal assistance by calling our Covid-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 or by filling out an online application here.

In the meantime, you can appeal any decision that you should not get unemployment or that you have been “overpaid.”  Appeal right away to protect your rights! You only have 15 days form an agency notice to submit your appeal. Your notice will include the date you must submit your appeal by. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your right to appeal.

The letter will provide instructions on how to appeal. You can find more information on appeals here.

The hearing on your appeal may be months away.

If your unemployment benefits were stopped, SLLS may be able to help, even before the hearing. Call our Covid-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to apply for free legal assistance or fill out our online application here.

 

*Please note, our services are only available for residents of the following parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Current as of August 10, 2021

The government offers discounted internet service for some people. You may be eligible for discounted or free internet assistance. Some programs also offer discounts for computers and tablets.

How can I get free or discounted internet service?

You can apply for free or discounted internet service through the Lifeline program. Eligible customers will save at least $9.25 off their monthly internet bill.

If you already receive a cell phone discount from Lifeline, you cannot also get internet service through the program. However, you may be able to get discounted Internet with a special Covid-related program (more information below). More information on cell phone assistance through Lifeline is available here.

In general, you qualify for the program if:

  1. You or someone in your household receives:
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but not if you just receive regular Social Security
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Tribal Programs (and live on federally-recognized Tribal lands)

 OR

  1. Your household income is equal to or less than these amounts:
    Number of People in Your HouseholdAnnual Household IncomeMonthly Average
    1$17,388$1,449.00
    2$23,517$1,959.75
    3$29,646$2,470.50
    4$35,775$2,981.25
    5$41,904$3,492.00
    6$48,033$4,002.75
    7$54,162$4,513.50
    8$60,291$5,024.25
    For each additional person, add$6,129$510.75

To apply for the program, you will need to complete an eligibility form.

  • You can complete the eligibility form online here. If you apply online, you may get an immediate decision.
  • You can also print out the application and mail it in. The application in English is available here and the application in Spanish is available here. Once you complete it, you will mail it to: Lifeline Support Center P.O. Box 7081 London, KY 40742

When you apply, you will need to provide:

  • Your Name
  • Your Social Security Number
  • A Working Email Address
  • A Mailing Address (cannot be a P.O. Box)
  • Income or Benefits documentation as listed above. If you are not receiving a government assistance listed above, you should send a copy if your tax return from last year or proof of three months in a row of your income; other proof may be accepted if you do not have year-long income documents.

If you are approved, you will be sent an eligibility certificate. You will present this to a provider that accepts the Lifeline discount to get your discounted Internet service.

  • You can ask your current provider if they accept Lifeline or visit this website to see what providers in your area accept the discount.

Are there additional benefits available during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Yes. The federal government has created the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. The program will provide:

  • A discount of up to $50 per month towards Internet service for eligible households.
  • A discount of up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands.
  • Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute at least $10 and less than $50 towards the purchase price.

The benefit is available to eligible new or existing customers of participating companies, (listed below) but there is a limit of one discount per household.

You can also combine these benefits with other Lifeline benefits. For example, an eligible household could have a Lifeline discount for their cell phone service and can also get discounted Internet with this new program.  

Who is eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

A household is eligible if at least one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program (as described above);
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, or received free or reduced school lunch in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
  • Is a college student who received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers’ existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

A household is a group who lives together and share money. If you don’t live together or don’t share money, more than one person under the same roof may qualify for a discount (i.e., roommates who do not share money, seniors in assisted-living homes, or students who receive Pell Grants and don’t live with their parents).

Will I receive the funds directly?

No. The program will send your benefits to your Internet provider every month.

If I already receive Lifeline benefits will I automatically receive the Emergency Broadband Benefit? 

No. You automatically qualify for it. But must still enroll to get it. Talk to your provider to to learn how to start receiving this discount. You can receive both Lifeline benefits and this new program at the same time. You can choose to use the new benefit with your current Lifeline service provider or switch to another company.

How do I apply for it?

If you are not enrolled in the Lifeline benefit program, you will need to apply in one of three ways:

  1. Contact a participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process. If you are unable to apply through them directly, you will have to apply using option 2 or 3 below. After that, contact a participating provider to select an eligible plan
  2. Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online. After you are found eligible, use their list of participating providers, and contact one to select a plan.
  3. Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application OR print out the application and mail it in. The application in English is available here and the application in Spanish is available here. Once you complete it, mail it to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 4074

When you apply, you will need to provide:

  • Your Name
  • Your Home Address where you will get internet
  • Income or Benefits documentation as listed above. If you are not receiving a government assistance listed above, you should send a copy if your tax return from last year or proof of three months in a row of your income; other proof may be accepted if you do not have year-long income documents.

If you qualify, households must contact a participating provider to select an Emergency Broadband Benefit eligible service plan.

How long will this last?

The broadband help will end at a date not yet known. It will be based on when funds run out or when the pandemic improves enough.

Which companies can I use the discount at? 

Access Wireless

AT&T

Boost Mobile

Charter (Spectrum)

CoBridge Broadband, LLC 

Comcast (Xfinity)

Cox

EATEL

enTouch Wireless

Fidelity Communications

good2go mobile

human-I-T

Life Wireless

LUS Fiber

NewPhone Wireless

PCs for People

Q Link Wireless

Reserve Telephone Company (RTC)

Sano Health

Selectel Wireless

Sparklight

StandUp Wireless

Star Telephone Company

Swyft Connect

TerraCom

T-Mobile

TM Telecomm Corp.

TracFone Wireless

TruConnect

Verizon

Vexus

Vision

Vyve Broadband

Where do I go if I have questions?

If you have more questions, go to www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org or contact the Emergency Broadband Support Center at (833)511-0311.

 

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

The federal government has opened applications for the Covid-19 Funeral Assistance Program. The program will help cover funeral costs from after January 20, 2020 for those who died from Covid.

There is no deadline to apply to the program, but you should apply as soon as possible.

Who is eligible for funeral assistance?

  • S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or qualified aliens who paid funeral expenses after January 20, 2020 for someone who died from Covid-19. The deceased did not have to be a U.S. citizen in order for their funeral expenses to be covered by the program.
  • The death must have happened in the United States, in a U.S. Territory, or in Washington D.C. Assistance is not available for the funeral expenses of U.S. citizens who died outside of the United States.
  • The death certificate must say that the death was related to Covid-19.
  • Applicants will have to show that the funeral costs were not covered by another source, such as funeral insurance, donations from volunteer or charity organizations, or other related government programs.

What costs does the program cover?

The program will reimburse up to $9,000 per funeral. (For example, if you had to pay for two funerals since January 20 for loved ones who passed due to Covid, you may be eligible to be reimbursed for up to $18,000.)

Expenses that the program will cover include:

  • Transportation for up to 2 individuals to identify the deceased
  • Transfer of remains
  • Casket/Urn
  • Burial plot/cremation niche
  • Marker/headstone
  • Clergy or officiant services
  • Arrangements for ceremony
  • Funeral home equipment or staff
  • Burial costs
  • Costs associated for producing death certificates
  • Additional expenses required by any applicable local or state laws

What documentation will I need to submit when I apply?

  • Death Certificate: The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms.
  • Proof of Funeral Expenses: Documentation (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include the applicant’s name as the responsible person for the expense, the deceased’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were from after January 20, 2020. The documentation must include all of the following information:
  1. The applicant’s name must be listed as the person paying;
  2. The total amount of the funeral expenses;
  3. The deceased’s name; and
  4. The date funeral expenses were paid.
  • Insurance or Other Funeral Benefits: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will not be awarded if all funeral costs were covered by funeral or burial insurance, a pre-paid funeral contract, a pre-paid trust for funeral expenses, or an irrevocable trust for Medicare, or from other funding. If you received any assistance to pay for the costs of the funeral, you will need to show documentation of what you received.

Other information you will need to submit:

  • Social Security number for the applicant and the deceased individual
  • Date of birth for the applicant and the deceased individual
  • Your current mailing address and telephone number
  • Location or address where the deceased individual passed away
  • Information about burial or funeral insurance policies
  • Information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations
  • CARES Act grants and assistance from voluntary organizations you received
  • Routing and account number for your checking or savings account (for direct deposit, if that is your preferred payment method)

How do I apply?

You can apply by calling 844-684-6333 or 800-462-7585 from 8:00 am-8:00 pm CT. No online applications will be accepted.

The program is receiving a lot of calls, so it may take some time for you to talk to an agent.

Once you talk to an agent to complete your application, you will be given an application number.

After you get your application number, you will submit your documents by either:

  • Uploading your documents to your DisasterAssistance.gov account,
  • Faxing your documents to 855-261-3452, or
  • Mailing your documents to P.O. BOX 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782.

You cannot submit your documents until your application is complete and you have an application number.

I was responsible for funeral expenses for more than one person whose death was caused by Covid-19. Can I apply for assistance for more than one death? Is there a limit?

Applicants may receive assistance for the funeral expenses of multiple individuals.

Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per applicant per state, territory, or the District of Columbia.

Someone else helped me pay for funeral expenses. Can they apply for the program too?

FEMA will generally only provide assistance to one applicant per deceased individual.

If more than one person helped with funeral expenses, they must register with FEMA under the same application as the applicant as a co-applicant. If not, the funds will go to the first applicant that submits all required documentation. No more than one co-applicant can be included on an application.

Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance even though I’ve already applied for a recent disaster, like a hurricane?

Yes. If you recently applied for FEMA assistance for home and/or personal property damage from a disaster, you can still apply for the Funeral Assistance program, if you meet the eligibility requirements.

The death certificate doesn’t say the death was caused by Covid. Can I get the death certificate changed to include it?

It is possible to change or amend a death certificate. This process starts with contacting the person who certified the death. Their name and address is on the death certificate. You’ll likely be asked to present evidence to them to sow why the death was related to Covid.

How will I receive COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

If you are approved assistance, you will receive a check by mail or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you chose when applying for assistance.

I received a decision letter and was not approved. How do I appeal FEMA’s decision?

You have 60 days from the date of the decision letter to upload, fax or mail a signed letter appealing FEMA's decision.

The appeal should include the following:

  • Why you think the decision is not correct.
  • Supporting documentation (i.e., death certificate, funeral expenses, or other supporting documents).
  • The application number must be included on each page of the appeal submitted.

Please be sure to review the decision letter you received for all instructions.

BEWARE OF SCAMS! FEMA will not contact you to ask for personal information unless you have applied for assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date or social security number of any deceased family member to any unsolicited telephone calls or e-mails from anyone claiming to be a federal employee or from FEMA.

If you believe you’ve been contacted by a scammer, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.