Kentucky’s Access to Justice Commission and the four Kentucky civil legal aid programs, AppalRed Legal Aid, Kentucky Legal Aid, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, and Legal Aid Society, introduce the COVID-19 Legal Helpline. The Helpline provides one phone number that Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth can call to access civil legal assistance and support to resolve issues and restore hope during and after this health and economic crisis.
Kentuckians experiencing a civil legal problem as a result of or exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic may call the 24/7 toll free Helpline at 833-540-0342 to be connected to the legal aid program serving their county. Kentuckians can also be connected to the Helpline and learn more about the types of assistance available to them by visiting the Helpline’s website, KYCovidLegalHelp.org.
HOW THE HELPLINE WORKS:
- Callers dial the Helpline number 833-540-0342 and choose from a numerical menu to select a region in Kentucky or hear a listing of counties.
- The menu selection will forward the caller to their appropriate regional legal aid intake line.
- The caller will either talk to an intake professional directly, or where appropriate (i.e. outside business hours) will hear a message advising them of hours of operation and the procedure for applying for services.
- Callers will be screened for eligibility and receive legal information, advice or legal representation on their case.
TYPES OF ASSISTANCE:
Seventy percent (70%) of low-income Americans have at least one unmet civil legal need but may not seek assistance because they do not think their issues can be resolved through the justice system or with the help of an attorney. Kentuckians experiencing any of the following issues can call the Helpline to seek legal information and assistance:
- Unemployment Benefit Issues
- Access to and assistance with government benefits (Social Security, Social Security Disability, TANF, SNAP)
- Medicaid/Medicare or health care issues
- Wage garnishment or consumer debt issues
- Tax issues
- Eviction or foreclosure
- Domestic violence or sexual assault (civil legal recourse includes protective orders and family law)
- Custody and visitation
- Employment issues
- Criminal record expungements
- Life planning – wills, living wills, powers of attorney
CIVIL ISSUES FACING KENTUCKIANS DUE TO COVID-19:
While the Helpline is available to assist Kentuckians with a variety of civil legal matters, Kentucky’s legal aid programs anticipate an increase in need for civil legal aid. With over 50% of Kentucky households experiencing unemployment during the pandemic, Kentucky’s legal aid programs anticipate an increase in need in the following areas of the law:
- With the moratorium on evictions being lifted in Kentucky on August 1st, an anticipated increase in those facing eviction or threat of eviction are in the thousands. With incomes disappearing or decreasing, many Kentuckians cannot pay their rent. Civil legal intervention is a critical component in mitigating this issue prior to court or in housing courts.
- There is a direct correlation between increased isolation and financial stress with a rise in domestic violence. Legal aid programs provide critical civil legal intervention to keep individuals and families safe by providing legal representation at protective order hearings or providing legal assistance in areas such as divorce, custody, and visitation.
Debt & Income Issues
- Unemployment Issues – With a high percentage of Kentuckians facing unemployment, legal aid programs are prepared to assist with unemployment hearings, denials, and appeals.
- Bankruptcy, Wage Garnishment, and Debt – With many Kentuckians unable to pay their rent, utilities, or other bill consumer and medical debt will be a huge burden as the pandemic and economic crisis persists. Legal aid attorneys can assist in restoring income by stopping wage garnishments through bankruptcy, negotiating with creditors, or assisting with other issues impacting a Kentuckians income. Through this intervention, Kentuckians are able to restore financial stability to their lives and move forward with a clean slate.
ABOUT CIVIL LEGAL AID AND KENTUCY’S CIVIL LEGAL AID PROGRAMS:
- Services are always FREE to those who are eligible.
- Kentucky’s four civil legal aid programs represent clients of all races, ethnicities, genders and ages. They include the working poor, veterans, families impacted by the opioid crisis, the elderly, and people with disabilities, nursing home residents and victims of interpersonal violence.
- Kentucky’s four civil Legal Aid Programs provide services in every county in the state and last year closed more than 20,500 cases, providing legal assistance to more than 51,000 low-income Kentuckians who are in crisis.
- Nearly 939,000 Kentuckians are eligible for civil legal aid services. Kentucky’s 4 civil legal aid programs are the only Kentucky programs helping low-income and vulnerable people with a wide array of civil legal problems. The programs provide representation to the working poor to maintain financial stability,to veterans to obtain health care and benefits and to families impacted by the opioid epidemic. The legal aid programs also represent victims who have been subjected to violence in obtaining protection and they prevent financial exploitation of theelderly. They keep families stable in their homes by stopping foreclosures and evictions; they represent children in abuse and neglect cases to protect the children’s interests; they remove barriers to people seeking work by expunging eligible criminal charges; they stop fragile residents from being wrongly discharged from long term care facilities. The list goes on.
- Denial of justice has a cost to every community: increased costs to law enforcement and shelters when the factors involved in domestic violence are not resolved; increased costs to local governments due to decreased property values and loss of tax revenue in areas blighted by foreclosures; increased costs to local emergency rooms when uninsured people are not enrolled in public benefits, like Medicaid, to which they may be entitled. For every dollar spent on civil legal aid for the poor annually, the community gains $7.42in immediate and long-term financial benefits.
- Kentucky’s Civil Legal Aid Programs cannot represent anyone in the country illegally, handle class actions, and handle criminal cases or any abortion cases. Civil legal aid is not the public defender.