LSC and COVID-19

LSC and Its Grantees Confront the Legal Challenges Posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Senate Bipartisan Support for LSC Request for Additional $50 million

Sens. Cornyn (R-TX), Murphy (D-CT), Sullivan (R-AK) and Durbin (D-IL) sent a bipartisan letter on May 8 to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of LSC’s request for an additional $50 million to enable our grantees to confront the enormity of the enormous challenges resulting from COVID-19. The House Caucus on Civil Legal Aid sent a similar bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee on April 8.
Senate Supplemental Appropriations Letter
House Caucus Support Letter
Conference of Chief Justices Conference of State Court Administrators Support Letter

 

COVID-19 Response Grant 

The Legal Services Corporation(LSC) received $50 million in the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate to stabilize households and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The funding will help LSC’s 132 grantees assist low-income clients facing job losses, evictions and other problems stemming from the pandemic.

COVID-19 Response Grant Terms and Conditions

Telework Capacity Building Grant  

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) issued over $2 million for grants to support building the telework capacity of LSC grantees during the Coronavirus outbreak. Grantees received up to $25,000 for equipment, services, and related expenses to improve or expand their telework and remote access capabilities to better serve low-income populations during a time of recommended or required telework. 

Frequently Asked Questions

LSC is maintaining and updating a list of questions and answers regarding pandemic issues affecting grants, grantee operations, and client services.

Below are summaries of a few of the most recently updated answers.

27.  Does the one-time pandemic payment of $1,200 (or $2,400 per married couple) count as “income” under Part 1611? (May 1, 2020)

  • No.  The one-time payment of $1,200 (or $2,400 per married couple) does not count as “income” under Part 1611.  Grantees may disregard it as they would a gift or tax refund.

28.  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress created a program to provide additional payments of $600 a week for recipients of unemployment benefits through July 31. Does the extra $600 a week count as “income” under Part 1611? (May 1, 2020)

  • Yes, with adjustments.  All unemployment benefits are Part 1611 income. Nonetheless, Part 1611 requires determination of annual income, not weekly income.  The $600 per week is available for less than half a year.  As with any short term or seasonal income, you can annualize it based on the expected duration of payments, prior income, and future income prospects.  Additionally, the pandemic may create a sufficient “other significant factor” under the § 1611.5 exceptions.  A more detailed answer to this question appears in the full FAQ, linked to above.

29.  Do unemployment benefits provided as “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” to people who normally would not qualify for those benefits count as “income” under Part 1611?

  • Yes, with adjustments.  The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits are income under Part 1611 the same as regular unemployment benefits.  Nonetheless, unemployment benefits are not available for a full year.  Thus, you may annualize them based on the expected duration of payments, prior income, and future income prospects.  Also, you may consider exceptions to the annual income ceiling pursuant to § 1611.5 due to the pandemic, as discussed in the answer above regarding the extra $600 per week and more fully in the FAQ, linked to below.  

To see the full list of FAQ's, click here | To download the full list of FAQ's, click here

Legal Services Corporation Will Receive $50 Million in Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

March 26, 2020

WASHINGTON–The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) will receive $50 million in the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate today to stabilize households and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.The funding would help LSC’s 132 grantees assist low-income clients facing job losses, evictions and other problems stemming from the pandemic.

“We are grateful that Congress has recognized that COVID-19 is going to dramatically increase the life-altering civil legal needs faced by low income Americans and that legal aid can make a meaningful difference in addressing those needs,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg.

Click here to read full press release

 



The American Bar Association and COVID-19

In response to the growing legal needs of Americans arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19), the American Bar Association has created a nationwide task force of volunteer lawyers and judges from across the legal profession. The task force will identify the legal needs arising from the pandemic, make recommendations to address those needs, and help mobilize volunteer lawyers and legal professionals to assist people who need help.

See ABA COVID-19 resources

Supporting Our Grantees

Many of you have been reaching out to your program liaisons with questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on your daily operations and client services. To ensure that we’re addressing all of your questions and concerns with a unified voice, we are instituting a regular conference call with grantees.

 


Click here to download the powerpoint from our 3/19 COVID-19 webinar

 


Click here to download the powerpoint from our 4/14 COVID-19 webinar

  

Dispatches from the Field

Gary F. Smith, Executive Director
Legal Services of Northern California
March 28, 2020

Yesterday marked the second full week of LSNC’s transition to a fully remote delivery system. Our offices are closed, with all staff—even support staff—working from home, using Internet telephones, laptops, and all sorts of other wizardry and gadgetry that I don’t understand. And yet in those two weeks we have opened nearly 500 new cases (many of which we have already closed after providing advice and counsel or brief service).

I am amazed—and heartened—by the flexibility and positive spirit with which not only my staff, but our entire community, has approached this crisis.

Topics

COVID-19 News From LSC and Its Grantees

Florida Gov. Desantis' Order Halting Evictions Set to Expire June 2

5.29.2020
Last month, Taking Action Reporter Jackie Callaway found that even after the suspension order went into effect April 2, landlords filed hundreds of evictions in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco courts. Tom DiFiore, an attorney with Bay Area Legal Services, said the courts in those counties are... Continue reading >

Addressing COVID-19's Impact on Civil Legal Services

5.29.2020
Last month, Chief Justice Harold Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia declared a statewide judicial emergency, essentially grinding the wheels of justice to a temporary halt, except for matters critical or essential to protecting the “health, safety and liberty of individuals.” In Georgia, the... Continue reading >

Eviction Filings Rising With End of Wisconsin's Moratorium Amid COVID-19

5.29.2020
State courts and tenant advocates are reporting a sharp increase in eviction filings this week after a two-month statewide moratorium on evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic expired Tuesday. “Our phone is ringing off the hook now,” said Heidi Wegleitner, a Dane County Board member and attorney who... Continue reading >

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