A monthly newsletter from 603 Legal Aid
Issue 1 | June 2021
In this issue:
On June 1, the NH Pro Bono Referral Program and the Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC) will merge to become 603 Legal Aid. This has been the culmination of more than two years of planning, and we expect the merger to greatly increase our capacity to meet the growing need of New Hampshire’s low-income population who seek free legal services.
Ms. Sonya Bellafant, a former legal aid attorney with many years of experience, and most recently director of the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance, has been hired as the new Executive Director of 603 Legal Aid. Under her direction, the services previously offered by LARC and Pro Bono will be expanded to include full representation for some clients, together with the provision of legal advice and counsel as well as referrals to other agencies, all tailored to each individual client’s needs.
One of the many benefits of the merger will be the provision of statewide holistic in-take which will efficiently identify pressing legal issues for New Hampshire’s low-income population.
We believe this merger will make the provision of legal services to New Hampshire’s low-income community stronger than ever!
603 Legal Aid helps NH’s low-income people by providing free legal advice and information by telephone, or a referral to another program for legal help. If you know someone who needs help with a non-criminal legal problem, have them contact 603 Legal Aid.
603 Legal Aid is the starting point to find reliable legal services in NH. Learn more about NH legal aid and the critical role 603 Legal Aid plays. Watch a short video from the NH Judicial Branch website.
Be sure to stay updated at NH Legal Aid’s website for LEGAL ISSUES DURING COVID-19 CRISIS.
603 Legal Aid can give legal advice about benefits, housing, and family problems such as
- custody of a child
- social security benefits
603 Legal Aid can refer people to an attorney to resolve
- immigration problems,
- debt collection issues, or
- to expunge a conviction from their record
603 Legal Aid is here to help the people you serve. We want to serve them, too, by advising them of their legal rights—especially during these uncertain times.
Encourage your clients to call us, or you or your client can apply for legal help from our website.
- Call 1-800-639-5290 or (603) 224-3333 from 9 AM – 1 PM weekdays,
- Apply anytime online at NHlegalaid.org,
- Foreclosure issues call 877-399-9995.
If you are a NH resident who cannot pay your rent and utility bills due to the COVID -19 pandemic, a new rental assistance program may be able to help. Apply to see if you are eligible. Apply through your Community Action Partnership (CAP) at the link below.
- Funds can cover current and past due rent, as well as utility and home energy costs for eligible households.
- This assistance is available retroactive to April 1, 2020 through the date of application, and the applicant may also receive assistance for these same expenses going forward.
- Households may receive assistance for a total of 12 months.
- Payments will be provided directly to the landlord or utility provider on behalf of the household. Landlords, with the tenant’s permission, may apply for assistance on behalf of their tenant.
- This program is only for eligible renters and landlords, not homeowners, per federal rules.
To be eligible, at least one person in the household:
- must qualify for unemployment benefits, had their income reduced,
- have had significant costs, or
- had other financial hardship due to COVID-19.
- The household must also be at risk for homelessness and
- meet certain income requirements.
Go to the program’s website: www.NHHFA.org/emergency-rental-assistance or read the fact sheet://www.nhhfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/NHERAP-FAQ-web.pdf
Go directly to the CAP website at //www.capnh.org/ to apply.
**Rockingham’s Rental Assistance Program: Rockingham County received additional federal funding to establish a rental assistance program. The eligibility requirements and the application are the same as the NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program being administered through the Community Action Programs. Learn more about it at: http://rockinghamcountynh.org/rent/
Governor Sununu announced last month that the State of New Hampshire would be ending all federal unemployment benefits the week of June 19, 2021. Federal unemployment benefits include:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (which gave benefits to those who would not normally qualify for unemployment like the self-employed and gig workers),
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (which gave weeks of eligibility to those whose benefits year had expired), and
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (which is the extra $600 and $300 weekly supplements).
Those benefits were to set to expire in September but will now end in June following the Governor’s announcement. About 35,000 Granite Staters who currently receive federal unemployment benefits will lose eligibility in June.
The Governor established a fund to give a $1000 bonus to residents who go back to full-time work, and a $500 bonus for those who go back to part-time work.
Many New Hampshire residents are still struggling with overpayment demands and other unemployment issues. Call 603 Legal Aid for help: 1-800-639-5290
Governor Sununu announced that the work-search requirement went back into effect the week of May 23rd. The unemployment work-search requirement had been suspended during the pandemic.
Now every claimant must certify they are engaging in weekly work-search tasks to qualify for unemployment. Claimants can attend online job trainings and job fairs to meet this requirement. Claimants will be sent work-search forms to fill out and keep for their records.
In late March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the federal eviction moratorium to June 30, 2021. The moratorium stops residential evictions based on nonpayment of rent so renters can remain quarantined to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To receive protection under the CDC moratorium, a renter must satisfy all requirements explained in the CDC’s most recent declaration. Here is a link to the CDC’s declaration: //www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/EvictionDeclare_d508.pdf
The CDC’s extension provides renters with more time to apply for rental assistance from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Community Action Partnership (CAP) agencies are processing ERAP applications now. Here is a link to all the CAP agencies in the State: //www.capnh.org/
Anyone currently facing eviction for nonpayment of rent who has questions about their tenant rights is invited to call 603 Legal Aid or apply for our services from our website.
603 Legal Aid: 1-800-639-5290
603 Legal Aid website: www.nhlegalaid.org
“Sue” was a 39-year-old woman living alone in a rented room at a rooming house in Manchester. Sue called 603 Legal Aid in early May, just minutes before she was to be kicked out. Her ejection notice alleged “violation of rules.”
Sue told 603 she had not violated any rules. Sue also said she had rented her room for more than 90 days and therefore believed she was entitled under New Hampshire law to a hearing before a judge. 603, after a review of her facts, agreed that the landlord must get permission from a judge before Sue could be lawfully removed. But Sue advised 603 that her landlord never brought renters to court. Anyone who failed to leave when the ejection notice expired, she said, got tossed by police.
603 was still on the phone with Sue when the landlord entered her room to perform the ejection. A few minutes later, 603 heard a Manchester police officer sternly order Sue to leave. Sue assured the officer she would not resist, and she left.
603 advised Sue how to file a petition at Manchester District Court to claim that her landlord performed an unlawful lockout. 603 also advised Sue to seek an emergency order on the petition that would allow her to immediately reenter her room. By late afternoon, Sue was back in her room thanks to a judge’s emergency order. A hearing was scheduled for the following week.
A 603 attorney agreed to represent Sue at the hearing. 603 wanted to safeguard Sue’s rights as a tenant and hopefully convince the rooming house to stop performing unlawful ejections in the future. Sue and her 603 attorney were ultimately successful. A judge found the rooming house had unlawfully ejected Sue and ordered them to pay her $1,000 in damages.
“I knew what my landlord was doing wasn’t right,” Sue later told 603. “But I wouldn’t have known what to do if I hadn’t talked with you guys. I can’t thank you enough!”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Good Client Story” in the subject line.
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Equal justice for all should not depend on whether you can afford it. Make a difference for New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens by donating to the New Hampshire Campaign for Legal Services. Your donation will provide vital support to the Legal Advice & Referral Center and New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Help us ensure that New Hampshire's poor and elderly have a place to turn when they need legal help.