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Free advice from Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

While a number of assistance programs are offered by the Cleveland and Cuyahoga Legal Aid Society, some of the priorities are as follows. Lawyers and volunteers from the non-profit work with the least fortunate, including those facing poverty, to ensure they have representation and free legal support when needed.

Public Benefits is one focus. Staff will also help low income individuals get the government entitlements they are entitled too, whether that is SSI disability, food stamps, or something else. There are cases in which residents of Cuyahoga County are unfairly denied heating bill assistance from HEAP, and the staff can help with that too. Another focus is on people from Cleveland that are facing abuse, domestic violence, or maybe they help with resolving nursing home issues for the elderly, and government programs can often help with these needs too.

This service is part of what is done by the Government Benefit team. They offer guidance, suggestions, and if needed legal representation to low-income individuals and families. The advice provided is intended to help them gain and keep access to state of Ohio or federal government benefits, even including unemployment for those people that are no longer working.

Some of those in highest demand include the TANF cash assistance program for families with children, SSI for disabled individuals, low income heating bill assistance (HEAP), and many others. In some cases, a client may even qualify for hearings at a local court or government office.

Some examples of other services include a housing or homeless project. This is for both tenants and homeowners. The goal is to help low income families either secure or keep an affordable home or apartment.

Legal assistance for homeless prevention is available. This project help address the civil legal problems of individuals or families who are currently, or are about to become, homeless, and a key resource is aid in stopping evictions. Some components of it include landlord and tenant mediation as well as foreclosure services for homeowners. In some cases, the staff from the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will refer clients to other local resources.

For example, they may partner with local non-profit HUD counseling locations in Cleveland and the county to assist with home loan modifications. Or a number of other resources are available for resolving everything from disputes with lenders to housing discrimination.




There is a significant amount of assistance available in an effort to help homeowners and people behind on their mortgage stay in their homes. The state of Ohio Attorney General’s Office and non-profits such as Greenpath financial try to coordinate resources with Legal Aid. They work together to provide free legal help to those who are facing foreclosures or a mortgage issues.

Lawyers may be able to help if you are behind on your home loan payments, if your home (but not rental house) is in foreclosure now, or if there are on-going problems with your mortgage service provider that may result in a foreclosure in the future.

Related to this is free advice and help on filing for bankruptcy. In general, the lawyers from the Legal Society of Cleveland will recommend this is a last resort, but in certain situations it will be explored. This can help low income families eliminate their debts, and maybe even stay in their home for a little while longer.

Medical issues, or denial of public health care benefits, can be an example of another type of case handled. People from Cleveland that fall into this category can get help from lawyer on addressing social issues that deny patients access. Get support with Medicaid, Medicare, and other benefits, if and when needed. This is also a component of their Elder Law division.

Through a legal-medical partnership, attorneys or paralegals can help patients navigate complex government programs. They can also get help in dealing with community systems that may hold solutions to a client’s medical need. Some of what may be administered includes access to medications, income supports for food-insecure families, mold removal from the home of asthmatics, applications for Medicaid, and also utility shut-off protection during winter months for the ill, as required by the state of Ohio. So these resources help people or families with serious medical conditions.

Many seniors will qualify for free advice, regardless of their income. Helplines in Cuyahoga County and really across Ohio provide information, counseling, and community education for citizens who are 60 years of age or older. Many of these resources are offered in partnership with non-profits such as Area Agencies on Aging or the state of Ohio Department of Human Services Aging Services Divisions. They operate under provisions of the Older Americans Act.





Senior clients may get assistance with addressing medical needs or completing a will or living trust. A major goal of the society is to protect the elderly and ensure they are treated fairly and not discriminated against for age reasons.

Immigrants, including Hispanics or refugees, can often get referrals from Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. This also includes refugees or victims of detainees. The local non-profit firms do their best to provide legal information in different languages, including Spanish. There are also many advocacy sessions and workshops held across Ohio and the county.

For more information on these or other services, anyone that is considered lower income should call the Cleveland Legal Society to see if they can qualify for help. The office is at 1223 W 6th St, Cleveland, OH 44113, or dial (216) 861-5500.




By Jon McNamara

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