COVID-19 resources for our community
The state’s civil legal aid network has provided free emergency legal assistance to hundreds of low-income and older Granite Staters pushed into crisis by the pandemic. Advocates have helped clients fight illegal evictions, obtain unemployment, find safety from domestic abuse, and appeal when they’ve been denied welfare assistance. They’ve made schools provide special education services during remote learning and helped struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.
Can legal aid help you?
What is civil legal aid?
Civil legal problems are the problems of everyday life.
They include eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, and bankruptcy. When you are denied veterans’ benefits, disability insurance, health coverage, or unemployment, that’s a civil legal problem too. To solve these problems, people often hire an attorney.
Civil legal aid is here to help people solve these problems even when they can’t pay for help. We represent people in court, give free legal advice, and provide free legal self-help guides.
How do I get free civil legal help?
You can apply for free civil legal help online 24 hours a day at nhlegalaid.org. You can also apply over the phone, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by calling 1-800-639-5290.
Legal aid also provides free legal self-help guides on its website. You’ll find them under “Self-Help Guides” at nhlegalaid.org. They are available in English and Spanish.
Eviction: Covid-19 left Mustafa and Lela unemployed and nearly homeless
The eviction notice came at the worst time for Lela and Mustafa and their 11-month-old daughter. Lela’s mother had died just a few months earlier from COVID-19, and they were both out of work. They didn’t have the money to pay rent or hire a lawyer. Desperate, they contacted NH Legal Assistance three days before they were to be locked out of their apartment. “We were so scared. We were so confused,” said Mustafa, who, like his wife is a New American from Sudan. “We have no other family here and nowhere else to go. “ The couple didn’t know the CDC had banned evictions to protect families from moving into shelters during the pandemic. But their legal aid lawyer did and fought in court to stop the eviction. “I felt like crying,” said Mustafa. “NHLA kept us from being homeless.”
Unemployment: Legal aid stopped an $11,000 paperwork mistake
Unemployment kept Stephen afloat when COVID-19 forced him to close his restaurant. Then, he feared it would bankrupt him when the state told him he had to repay $11,000 because of a paperwork mistake. When the state refused to review the case again, Stephen called legal aid. A legal aid attorney persuaded the state to reconsider its decision. Stephen actually owed the state nothing. In New Hampshire, more than 10,000 people who collected unemployment during the pandemic have received notices demanding they repay some or all of the money they received, according to New Hampshire Public Radio. Unemployment benefit overpayments happen for a variety of reasons, including good-faith mistakes on the complicated forms. But in many cases, especially because of how complicated the new pandemic-related programs are, these notices are incorrect. Civil legal aid can help people appeal, like we did for Stephen.