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January 2021

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THE LARC ADVOCATE

“We stand alone, together.”

A monthly newsletter from

THE LEGAL ADVICE & REFERRAL CENTER

Issue 11 | JANUARY 2021

In this issue:

CDC eviction moratorium extended to January 31st

A summary of the new COVID relief bill

LARC’s attorney helps Domestic Violence victims

LARC’s bi-lingual English/Spanish intake worker

A new website tool that creates documents

Good client story

CDC eviction moratorium extended to January 31

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) extended its moratorium on nonpayment of rent evictions to January 31, 2021. The moratorium also arguably applies to evictions based on no fault or wrongdoing of the tenant (like removal to sell the property or to do renovations).

The purpose of the CDC Moratorium is to allow tenants to remain quarantined to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

A tenant enjoys protection under the CDC Moratorium only when certain requirements are first met, and if a CDC declaration is then delivered to the landlord. The declaration notifies the landlord of both the tenant's financial hardship and the tenant's best efforts to obtain rental assistance. Here's a tenant's step-by-step guide for securing protection against eviction under the CDC Moratorium:

1. Must not earn more than $99,000 in annual income for calendar year 2020, or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return.

2. If behind in rent, must apply for rental assistance at Town/City Welfare Office & Community Action Program (CAP).

3. All adult household members must sign & date the declaration. * Tenants should note that the CDC declaration is signed under penalty of perjury.

4. Deliver the declaration to the landlord (hand delivery, 1st class mail, certified mail, attached as a picture to a text message or email)

5. Continue to pay the landlord whatever portion of the rent the tenant's circumstances permit.

See the CDC declaration on LARC's website.

Tenants are urged to contact LARC if they have any questions about the CDC Moratorium. Call: 1-800-639-5290.

 

A summary of the new COVID relief bill

Some Help Is on The Way

The new Covid-19 stimulus bill and aid package has passed both houses of Congress and been signed by the President. Here is an overview of the most important provisions:

Stimulus Checks

The new bill includes another round of stimulus payments. For those individuals who made less than $75,000 last year you can expect a check of $600. Those with dependent children will get $600 for each child. Most checks will be direct deposited, and those that need to be mailed will take longer to arrive.

Housing Relief

The Centers of Disease Control eviction moratorium has been extended another 30 days to the end of January. This moratorium allows tenants to stay (put on hold) evictions for nonpayment or other economic reasons provided they meet certain provisions. More information and a link to the CDC declaration form can be found here.

The bill also includes $25 billion for rental assistance. New Hampshire will be getting $200 million for rental assistance. Under the legislation, cities and states can make payments directly to landlords or utility companies on behalf of renters. If a landlord refuses to accept the rental assistance, cities and states can give assistance directly to the renter, who can then make payments to the landlord or utility provider. It remains to be seen exactly how New Hampshire will distribute the funds and when the money will be available. Please continue to check our website and the Community Action Partnership (CAP) website for updates.

Unemployment Benefits

The new aid package will add an extra federal unemployment benefit of $300 per week through March 14, 2021. Everyone receiving unemployment benefits will be entitled to the $300 weekly supplement.

The legislation extends two programs that have been assisting those that have lost work due to Covid-19. The bill extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program for an additional 11 weeks to March 14, 2021.

This new bill also includes a provision that will make easier for New Hampshire Employment Security to waive overpayments if the claimant was not at fault and collection of the overpayment would be “against equity and good conscience.”

As the pandemic and financial hardships continue for New Hampshire residents it is hopeful that another aid package will come with the new administration. In the meantime, this end of the year bill will provide some much-needed help.

 

LARC’s attorney helps Domestic Violence victims

2021 is going to bring big improvements to the current civil legal service model for victims/survivors of Domestic Violence.

LARC has hired a staff attorney specializing in domestic violence advocacy along with a paralegal to support the work.

With the goal of streamlining access to legal service, LARC is preparing to be the primary access point for those seeking legal assistance in domestic violence-related family law issues by strengthening the online application for services and providing consistent screening for any other civil legal needs of our clients.

In addition to screening applications and making referrals to our partner agencies New Hampshire Legal Assistance, the Pro Bono Referral Program, and the crisis centers statewide, the DV Specialist will provide civil legal advice and limited direct representation to survivors. More information about the project details to come soon.

 

LARC’s bi-lingual English/Spanish intake worker

Due to the Covid-19 relief funds LARC has received from the federal government, LARC was able to employ Ms. Mirka Lara as an intake screener. Mirka is bilingual in both English and Spanish and her proficiency in both languages has contributed significantly to the delivery of services to LARC’s Spanish speaking clients.

Mirka’s fluency in Spanish has also enabled LARC’s bilingual Spanish speaking attorney to devote more of his time to the Spanish only and Spanish ESL clients with issues that fall within the office’s priorities, while Mirka provides information and referrals to those members of the Spanish speaking community whose legal issues fall outside the core priorities for LARC.

Mirka’s Spanish language ability has enhanced the services we provide to members of the Spanish speaking community and enabled LARC to increase its efficiency and response time to Spanish speaking clients in need.

Mirka’s temporary employment contract with LARC will end soon, but during her time here, she has proven to be an invaluable asset to LARC, and her services are greatly appreciated!

 

A new website tool that creates documents

LARC developed a tool for the NH Legal Aid website that will create a document for you. After you answer a set of questions, an appropriate document is created based on your answers. You can download or e-mail your final document along with an instruction sheet that tells you what to do next and gives you links to more information about your legal issue.

Currently, the documents you can create are:

Use the links to create the letters.

In 2021, many more will be added, including some court forms.

Check it out!

 

Good client story

"Jane" was a 54-year-old woman who lived with her teenage son in a couple of rented rooms inside their landlord's home in the north country. The landlord was Jane's former boyfriend and the father of her boy. Jane moved into the home when her boyfriend bought it in 2007, just before their son was born. Their relationship ended in 2015, but mother and son stayed on as renters. When the landlord physically assaulted his son in the summer of 2020, Jane called the police. For that, the landlord served mother and son with an eviction notice.

Jane called the Legal Advice & Referral Center (LARC) for help. Jane said that her former partner's attorney had assured him that the Center for Disease Control's halt on evictions during the pandemic did not apply in here because this was his home. LARC advised Jane that the CDC's order did, in fact, apply in her case, and she was instructed to serve her ex with the required CDC declaration. LARC then advised Jane how to bring her landlord into court to enforce the CDC's order should he change the locks. Finally, LARC helped Jane compose a brief written notice to hand her ex on the day his eviction notice expired. It warned him of court action if he failed to abide by the CDC's order.

Jane called LARC back in December with an update. Just before her eviction notice expired, she handed her ex the notice LARC helped her draft. He took a picture of it with his phone, Jane said, and sent it via text to his attorney.

"I think that note stopped my ex's attorney dead in her tracks," Jane said. "My ex has stopped talking about evicting me and my son. I haven't heard a word from his attorney."

Jane told LARC she was at the top of the list for subsidized housing and expected to be in a new, safe place by the time the CDC order ends on December 31st.

"We're going to be okay, thanks to your help," Jane told LARC.

If you know someone who had a good outcome in a legal case due to LARC’s help, please share that Good Client Story with us! We would love to share it with our readers. LARC will never use a client’s real name or any facts that could reveal who that client is.  Send your Good Client Stories to: webmaster@larcnh.organd put “Good Client Story” in the subject line.

 

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