12/19/2018: News for Community Partners from Legal Aid

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The below news was emailed today to Legal Aid’s community partners.  Want to join the email list?  Contact Anne Sweeney, Esq. – Legal Aid’s Managing Attorney for Community Engagement: anne.sweeney@lasclev.org.

Legal Aid Updates:

Tenants can now call Legal Aid’s Tenant Information Line at 216.861.5955.    Tenants can call with questions about their rights and responsibilities between the hours 9am-5pm and leave a brief message with their housing question and someone will call them back within 24 business hours.

Attention Lorain County – Legal Aid is piloting a project to help people who owe court debt in Lorain.  Clients who owe money as a result of court involvement for fines, fees, or costs may apply to Legal Aid for help by calling 1-888-817-3777.  Cases for eligible applicants will be reviewed to determine what legal assistance can be offered.  Providers who have questions about this pilot project may contact Anne Sweeney, Managing Attorney for Community Engagement at anne.sweeney@lasclev.org.

Legal Aid is hiring!  We are looking to hire for attorney, social worker, paralegal, and intake specialist positions in 2019.  You can find more information at https://lasclev.org/careers/jobs-at-legal-aid/.

Local Updates:

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office has issued a warning regarding fake oxycodone pills. These pills, disguised as Oxycodone, actually contain fentanyl.  If you or anyone you know is actively using or recovering from opioid addiction, contact Project DAWN for information at 216.778.5677.  You can read the full warning from the Medical Examiner’s Office here.

Earlier in the year, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services switched over to a new state wide case management system. Cuyahoga County also implemented a new Benefits Application Hotline (844-640-OHIO(6446)) to make applying for benefits easier. Clients are encouraged to call the Hotline but they can also complete an application at any of the Neighborhood JFS offices.  JFS has also created a “Public Benefit Awareness and How to Access Benefits Toolkit” available here.  Clients of JFS in Cuyahoga can also try reaching out to the Cuyahoga JFS Customer Relations Unit at 216-802-2810. Recipients can also call Legal Aid to apply for help with benefit terminations and application denials (including failure to process applications timely).

Due to a recent court order, the City of Cleveland is placarding homes in Cleveland that have lead hazards that have not been remediated.  Residents whose homes are posted with a warning sign because of lead hazards can call Legal Aid if they are concerned about their rights.  Legal Aid can provide information, advice, referrals, and representation in some cases.  Call the Tenant Information Line at (216) 861-5955 for information or apply for help by calling intake at (888)817-3777.

Do any of your clients struggle with hoarding?  Hoarding Connection of Cuyahoga County has a 15-week, action-oriented peer-led treatment group focused on helping people manage their hoarding behaviors.  Sign up at this website to be notified when groups are formed in your area.

National Updates:

New resources now available on how to deal with several financial problems, such as student loans, filing for bankruptcy and car repossession.  The National Consumer Law Center has created this series of articles for families in financial difficulty.  There are over 20 articles that provide clear, comprehensive and practical information about a variety of consumer issues.  These articles can be found at https://mailchi.mp/nclc/consumerdebt.

Disabled Veterans may be due federal income tax refunds for taxes they paid on one-time, lump-sum disability severance payments (DSP).  During July of 2018, the IRS mailed letters on behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD) notifying affected veterans of their eligibility to file a claim with the IRS for a refund or credit of an overpayment attributable to the DSP. The deadline to file for the refund is one year from the letter’s date. Veterans who did not receive the letter and estates or surviving spouses of veterans also may be eligible. Veterans may claim the standard refund or may pursue a refund based on proof of the actual amount of DSP. More information can be found through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (https://www.dfas.mil/dsp_irs.html), the Internal Revenue Service (https://www.irs.gov/individuals/military/combat-injured-veterans-tax-fairness-act-claim-information-available), The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016-Veteran’s Disability Compensation for Veterans Separated due to Medical/Disability, the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 21.6.6.4.20.2  and/or by calling the IRS at (833) 558-5245.      

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has created guides to help financial caregivers managing someone else’s money.  CFPB created the Managing Someone Else’s Money guides to help financial caregivers by walking them through their duties, providing tips on protecting their loved ones from financial exploitation and scams, and offering helpful resources. More info can be found at this link..

Ohio Updates:

Ohio expanded eligibility for sealing criminal records this summerSB 66 expands both the categories of eligible offenders and the number of offenses that can be sealed.  It also expands “community control” alternatives to prison time, allowing for more non-violent drug offenders to enter into treatment instead of going to prison.  The bill went into effect on October 29, 2018.  More information about the new law is available at https://lasclev.org/wp-content/uploads/SealedRecord_hirez.pdf.

Ohio passed new payday lending legislation to protect consumers from payday loan interest rates and fees.  The Fairness in Lending Act is designed to balance the interests of borrowers and lenders—allowing Ohio lenders to offer short-term/small dollar loans that will be profitable, but which also include terms that are affordable and fair for consumers. Ohio’s payday/auto title lenders will have to operate under the new rules beginning April 26, 2019.  More information about the Fairness in Lending Act is at: https://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2018/07/gov_john_kaisch_signs_payday_l.html

Beginning January 31, 2019 through July 31, 2019, the Ohio BMV will implement a six-month driver’s license reinstatement fee debt reduction and waiver program for offenders whose driver’s licenses have been suspended for specific violations.  To be eligible, an individual must have completed all court-ordered sanctions related to the eligible offense other than the payment of reinstatement fees and 18 months must have passed since the end of the period of the suspension ordered by the court.  For more information visit https://bmv.ohio.gov/susp-fees-amnesty.aspx.

The State of Ohio has been granted a waiver for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) that are eligible for food stamps. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has been approved to waive the time limit for some county agencies, including Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, and Lorain, beginning on 10/1/2018.

 

Legal Aid will be in the neighborhood!  Click here for a printable flyer – or see all of Legal Aid’s upcoming FREE legal advice clinics by visiting our online calendar!

2018
News
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The Campaign for Legal Aid
Steady growth in donor support through The Campaign for Legal Aid extends Legal Aid’s reach in Northeast Ohio.

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www.ExtendJustice.org

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Working together to #ExtendJustice
Our leadership with The Campaign for Legal Aid will extend the reach of justice to more families in Northeast Ohio.

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www.ExtendJustice.org

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Housing Justice Alliance
The Campaign for Legal Aid will support the Housing Justice Alliance - and we'll be the first community in Ohio to create a right to counsel when someone's home is at risk.

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www.lasclev.org/HousingJusticeAlliance

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