Idaho Legal Aid Prepares to Help Idahoans Impacted by COVID-19

Apr 3, 2020

Yesterday, we created a COVID-19 Legal Advice Line, and we’ve put a bunch of our attorneys to work on a variety of different legal issues on it. We’re going to try to help these people address these issues that many of them have never had the need to address.” Jim Cook, Legal Aid Executive Director


 

On March 25 an order was issued for an emergency reduction in Idaho Court services and limited access to court facilities. The courts are currently only allowing hearings in cases of violence, child custody, protection, or endangerment, civil protections, guardianship and adoptions. The order also includes evictions in cases related to the delivery, manufacture or use of a controlled substance. 

Experts have told us the most vulnerable in our society are likely to be most affected by this outbreak. Idaho Legal Aid represents low-income Idahoans state-wide with civil-legal needs from their seven regional offices. 

 

I spoke to Legal Aid Executive Director, Jim Cook, earlier this week about the kinds of cases his office helps to address and about the growing demand for these services in the coming weeks and months. 

Our major practice areas are; 

family law, where there’s domestic violence, 

housing, including evictions and foreclosures, and 

public benefits, like health access and medicaid. 

I am predicting all three of those are going to get a big increase in demand as the pandemic rolls on.  

The Idaho Department of Labor announced yesterday that 46,526 people in Idaho have filed initial unemployment claims since Governor Little declared a state of emergency on March 15th.

Cook talks about a few of the challenges many Idahoans might face for the first time in their lives. 

 “Now is going to be one of the most challenging times in many Idahoans’ lives. We had over three million people in the United States file for unemployment last week, six million this week. 

There’s going to be a lot of people, not used to needing legal help, who say, 

‘I’ve never had to go on unemployment benefits before and I’m confused. I’ve never not paid my rent before, but I’m now unemployed. I don’t have the money to pay my rent. I don’t know what to do, or I’ve never not made a mortgage payment before, and all of a sudden, I can’t.’

We’re going to have people that get very sick, and they’ve never thought about creating an advanced directive (living will).

We’re going to have people that get all sorts of offers for scams and fly-by-night things to address COVID-19. I want all those folks with those concerns to consider reaching out to us.

Yesterday, we created a COVID-19 Legal Advice Line, and we’ve put a bunch of our attorneys to work on a variety of different legal issues on it. We’re going to try to help these people address these issues that many of them have never had the need to address.” 

Idaho Legal Aid Services COVID-19 Advice Line - (208) 746-7541 

Idaho Legal Aid Services COVID-19 Advice Line - (208) 746-7541

Idahoans can also apply online for assistance

As many out-of-work Idahoans grapple with the question about how to pay their mortgages and rent, a state order has suspended eviction proceedings in the state until April 15th, except in cases related to the delivery, manufacture or use of a controlled substance. Those cases still qualify for hearings under the emergency reduction order. 

Idaho Legal Aid represents low-income Idahoans with civil-legal needs from seven regional offices across the state. Executive director, Jim Cook, says a wave of evictions are expected in the coming weeks and months. 

 “There will be a huge number of evictions coming down the pipeline, but because the courts are closed right now those cases are being delayed.” -Jim Cook, Idaho Legal Aid Services Director

Idaho Legal Aid has set up a hotline to help people dealing with an array of challenges created by the health crisis, including housing issues. 

Idaho Legal Aid Services COVID-19 Advice Line - (208) 746-7541

 

Those living ouside Idaho in the US can find legal assistance programs by contacting the Legal Services Coporation at https://www.lsc.gov/