Letter to the Editor of the Worcester Telegram:
As the COVID-19 pandemic tears through Massachusetts, some of our most vulnerable neighbors face an increased risk not only of health complications, but also of inequities stemming from the economic fallout. As an organization providing essential services, Community Legal Aid remains open and committed to helping low-income individuals, families, and the elderly navigate the unique legal challenges endemic to this unprecedented emergency.
As the crisis deepens, we are projecting an acute spike in requests for legal services across our service area (Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties). We are already seeing significant increases in many of our practice areas. For example, our employment experts are assisting clients who have been laid off or furloughed and are in need of legal assistance to access unemployment benefits or appeal wrongfully denied claims. Our housing attorneys are handling emergency cases for tenants, while our benefits advocates are assisting clients with accessing government benefits, such as food stamps. Our family law attorneys are already seeing an uptick in domestic violence cases and are representing survivors in securing restraining orders to keep them and their children safe. Finally, our education attorneys are helping families get remote school services in place for their children with special needs.
At the core of Community Legal Aid’s mission is the belief in equal justice for all. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of this commitment, while simultaneously exposing the critical shortage in resources available to meet the increased need. Now more than ever, we are proud to serve our client communities as we continue to fight for justice for our most vulnerable neighbors. If you are a low-income or elderly person facing a civil legal issue arising from the coronavirus crisis, please reach out to Community Legal Aid – we are here to help.
Jonathan L. Mannina, Esq.
Executive director, Community Legal Aid