Legal Services office sees massive increases in foreclosure, and unemployment calls

Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The head of the New Orleans legal aid office says calls for help from people who have lost their jobs have increased more than 600 percent. They are also being deluged with hundreds of calls from people who are being evicted.

Federal unemployment benefits are running out this week and attorneys with the office of Southeast Louisiana legal services are working overtime.

“I’m very worried because most of our clients live paycheck to paycheck and right now there is no paycheck coming in,” said Marie Wright with SLLS.

People fighting to keep their jobs and benefits are seeking legal help in droves.

“We’ve also seen a 670 percent increase in people seeking help with unemployment benefits,” said SLLS Director Laura Tuggle.

Across the region, dozens of people are facing evictions or foreclosures.

On the east bank of Orleans Parish alone, lawyers say over 350 eviction cases have been filed since early July.

“Over the past few months we’ve seen a tripling of the number of people seeking representation for eviction cases,” said Tuggle.

As for those facing foreclosure, mortgage experts have this advice.

“Be honest, they can’t help you if they can’t get you on the phone you don’t want to go MIA and avoid the calls,” said mortgage broker Dwayne Stein. For those who can’t reach an agreement with their mortgage company or landlord legal aid lawyers are standing by in spite of a client caseload that’s expected to get worse.

“It will morph into consumer issues, bankruptcy arise in domestic violence as relationships fray,”said Tuggle.

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services recently got a grant to hire more lawyers and they hope they can keep up with demand.

If you need free legal assistance Southeast Louisiana legal assistance recently established a Covid hotline. It is 844-244-7871. If you are an attorney and would like to help or donate, they ask that you go to their website.

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