Chelsea Wait, Grants & Resource Development Manager
727-821-0726 ext. 249
For Immediate Release
St. Petersburg, FL – Gulfcoast Legal Services (GLS) has suspended in-person services, but the legal aid organization continues to work with clients via email and phone, and has recently received an influx of calls regarding evictions.
Many clients and callers are confused about rapidly changing rules regarding their housing situations. In addition, there is fear and confusion over court requirements regarding the filing of timely responses for pro se defendants. Many of the callers are elderly and afraid to expose themselves to COVID-19 by presenting publicly. Others do not understand how recent legal changes will impact them, who has the authority to remove them from their homes, or how they can protect themselves.
Those facing housing challenges now and throughout the past few weeks are particularly vulnerable. For example, a recent housing client came to GLS with a non-renewal notice forcing her out of her home at the end of March. She has a disability and was recovering from major surgery. She was terrified of having to find new housing in the middle of a pandemic. GLS successfully negotiated with her property owner and got them to either extend her lease for another month or renew a long-term lease, so she can heal and remain housed through the height of the pandemic.
“While there is never a good time to lose your home, the uptick we’ve seen is of particular concern. This is a time when everyone, including our most vulnerable seniors and single parent households, requires safe and secure shelter.” – Caryn Rosencrantz, Supervising Attorney for the GLS Housing unit.
GLS is committed to assisting with clients with evictions, foreclosures, landlord/tenant issues, and fair housing discrimination. They expect housing needs to intensify after the pandemic is over and suspended orders begin to be addressed.
For more information, or to see if you are eligible for services, call 727-821-0726 ext. 273 or fill out an online application for services at gulfcoastlegal.org/request-assistance. While the organization has suspended in-person services to slow the spread of COVID-19, staff will work with clients via email and phone and will support clients in court hearings either by phone or in-person if they are deemed mission-critical by the courts, such as injunctions for protection for domestic violence survivors.
For more information, GLS has a list of common Questions & Answers regarding civil legal needs (such as information on employment law, housing, etc.) on their blog at gulfcoastlegal.org/blog.
About Gulfcoast Legal Services
Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc. (GLS) is a regional 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing free, comprehensive civil legal aid through counsel, advice, representation, advocacy, and education for vulnerable individuals and families in the greater Tampa Bay area. GLS is dedicated to serving vulnerable individuals living in poverty, low-wage workers, persons with disabilities, veterans, the homeless, victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, the LGBTQ+ community, and the elderly who otherwise may not have access to an attorney. For more information, visit: http://gulfcoastlegal.org.