By CLOEY CALLAHAN
Although the moratorium on rental evictions was extended from the end of January to the beginning of May, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley is still encouraging those possibly facing eviction at the end of the moratorium to reach out for legal assistance now.
Legal Services of the Hudson Valley has stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to help anyone who might be facing any sort of legal situation or needs assistance finding grants, loans or other financial help. The City of Newburgh has been encouraging its struggling residents to reach out to the Newburgh branch to learn more about requirements and what help is available.
Maureen Fox, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley’s Chief Development Officer, said that the first step for anyone who needs assistance is to complete the intake form either online or by phone. The 15-20 minute intake process connects those in need with a paralegal who will ask them questions about their case and see if they meet the financial eligibility criteria. Questions include information about household size, finances and the service needed.
Typically, they serve individuals with incomes that are less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline levels, which is $52,400 for a family of four. However, Fox explained that there are exceptions depending on the case and that “someone shouldn’t be scared off” by the base income number.
“Even if we can’t help them, we can direct them to someone who can,” said Fox. “Or we can help them fill out a form.”
After your case is opened, which could take anywhere between a week or two, you are connected with an attorney who may ask you further questions and help provide you with your needs. They provide everything from full representation to community education about legal rights and responsibilities. Plus, help in a number of different languages is available including Spanish.
With the moratorium being extended, they still want to get ahead of what will happen once it is lifted, whenever that might be.
“Individuals should contact us early so we can identify where they need help,” said Fox. “In some cases we have rental arrears, which will help them pay their back rent.”
“Because they haven’t gotten an eviction notice, people aren’t doing anything about it,” said Fox. “We are trying to get them to come early to get advice on what to do. We’re very concerned that once the moratorium is lifted, there will be this huge influx of people coming to us with 18 months worth of issues and we won’t be able to handle it.”
Additionally, Fox said they’ve seen a lot of people come to Legal Services of the Hudson Valley for help because they aren’t completely sure which applications to complete for grants or loans.
“There are a lot of community based organizations out there that have other resources,” said Fox. “We can help them determine if they are eligible for food stamps or welfare and advise them on what to do.”
If you need assistance from Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, contact 1-877-574-8529 or visit lshv.org.