Disasters devastate low-income communities, exacerbating poverty and further entrenching inequality. In the wake of any disaster, including the COVID-19 pandemic, legal issues abound and communities are in need of lawyers to overcome barriers to recovery.
But it’s not enough only to respond to disasters after they occur. As the frequency and severity of disasters continues to rise, lawyers play a critical role in improving preparedness by working with community members and leaders to avoid or mitigate disaster-related legal challenges. The unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 has shown the need for both preparedness and rapid response.
As more people confront devastating instability due to COVID-19, there is an overwhelming demand for qualified lawyers to help tackle myriad legal issues arising from this public health crisis.
For the past three decades, Equal Justice Works has supported over 2,000 Fellows serving communities in need across our country. We mobilize Fellows and law students to serve at legal services organizations where they build capacity to respond to the ever-increasing demand for accessible and free legal help. Our Fellowship programs address issues such as housing and immigration and serve communities including veterans and the elderly, all work that now, because of the novel coronavirus, intersects with disaster recovery.
Fellows and law students can address the current and emerging legal needs that exist as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
Supporting statewide efforts to suspend water and power disconnections for individuals facing financial turmoil during the COVID-19 crisis
- Navigating solutions for immigrant clients in the face of limited access to clients in detention and disruptions to immigration court
- Advocating for the release of incarcerated individuals facing serious health and safety concerns
- Assisting students with limited or no access to necessary educational resources, including students with special education needs
- Securing disaster benefits, including unemployment assistance and appealing wrongful FEMA denials
- Challenging unlawful evictions, public housing displacement, and exploitation by private landlords
- Replacing important legal documents such as wills and advance directives
- Tackling insurance claim disputes, consumer price gouging, and other insurance claim scams
Protecting individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace and discrimination in accessing emergency medical services
- Ensuring that children and families have an advocate to support a safe home
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