Posted April 11, 20204:49 pm
Calling for help in Northeast Ohio is now easier for people whose jobs have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland has launched a new free tool called the Worker Information Line.
“That is designed to be a quick resource for people who have questions about employment issues and unemployment issues,” explained Katherine Hollingsworth, the managing attorney of the Legal Aid’s economic justice practice. “A lot of people are looking for reliable information, trustworthy information and are not sure where to get it.”
You can call the worker information line and leave a message at any time, and their goal is to return that call within one to two business days. Their staffers will return calls Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is one number for Cuyahoga County residents and another for those in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Lorain Counties.
“There are a lot of questions about these new federal programs that are being rolled out, these expansions of the unemployment system and people want to know ‘Am I eligible for those?'” said Hollingsworth.
Other common questions involve getting state unemployment benefits.
“While there are still a lot of unknowns about how some of these systems are gonna work and some of these programs are gonna be rolled out, we want to make sure that people have access to the information that is available,” she said.
Hollingsworth says they are working with other Legal Aids and state agencies to have the most up to date information for the caller.
If someone’s question turns out to be a legal issue, they will be referred to the intake department for follow up.
Those who are facing housing challenges can contact the already established tenant information line.
“They’re getting lots of calls every day about tenant issues and certainly questions about what do I do if I can’t pay rent this month and that for some people is very new,” said Hollingsworth.
The legal aid is also starting a free virtual advice clinic, just like the in-person clinics they’ve provided, connecting people with private attorneys. This way they say they can keep people safe while providing important information to those who need it.
“Attornies in the private bar really do seem interested in wanting to do more,” she said.
While their doors are physically closed, Hollingsworth says the staff is there to listen and help at a time that is financially destabilizing and uncharted territory for so many.
“We want to hear from the community and be a resource and support as much as we can,” she said.
To reach the Worker Information Line for Cuyahoga County call 216-861-5899. Those in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Lorain Counties can call 440-210-4532.