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Rebound Indiana: Virtual Town Hall connecting you to legal resources during pandemic

Posted at 6:03 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 23:30:33-04

INDIANAPOLIS — RTV6 and the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic are hosting a virtual town hall Wednesday to help connect you to legal resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Call 6 Investigates and attorneys with the clinic partnered for the townhall.

The following attorneys from Neighborhood Christian Clinic particapted in the townhall:

  • Chase Haller, Senior Staff Attorney
  • Matthew Gaudin, Staff Attorney
  • Stephanie Caraway, Staff Attorney
  • Kelsey Raves, Staff Attorney

Below is a summary of some of the questions answered:

Kara: Where are my benefits?

Stephanie: The Indiana unemployment office is overwhelmed with the number of claims. They’re doing the best the can. The best you can do is be patient and continue to check your account.

Kara: Is there something you should be looking for to know if they’re processing your claim or if you were denied?

Stephanie: You can find this information on the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s website. If it is denied, it will be obvious it was denied.

Kara: Unemployment doesn’t apply to just those who lost jobs. It also applies to people who have lost wages. Can you talk about that?

Stephanie: This is referred to as being partially unemployed. As we move forward with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan, some people may be returning to work, but with limited hours, limited occupancy, or schedule.

Kara: What can people do if they find themselves in a domestic violence situation, suspect child abuse or other family issues?

Stephanie: We have seen a recent rise in domestic violence incidents. If you feel unsafe or need to get out of your home situation, there are places to help you. The most important thing to do is to get in touch with somebody and create a safety plan.

Kara: What are the eviction laws right now?

Chase: Holcomb issued an executive order preventing landlords from filing evictions or foreclosures until after June 4. If a landlord is trying to evict someone through changing locks, or turning off utilities, you should seek legal assistance and file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. On the federal side, there are additional protections for things like public housing and Section 8 programs.

Kara: If you can’t pay rent during the pandemic, you will still have to pay it eventually, right?

Chase: The governor’s order doesn’t affect the contractual rights of both parties. People will still pay their landlords. We advise people to call 211 if you need emergency assistance.

Kara: What is being done to address foreclosures?

Chase: If someone is afraid they are going to fall behind on their mortgage payments, we encourage them to call 1-877-GET-HOPE. If you have lost your job, have a reduced income, there are agencies that may be able to help you.

Kara: Matt, what advice to you have for people? What are you hearing?

Matt: A lot of people are worried about their stimulus checks and if creditors can take their checks. The checks are protected. The Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling stating the courts can’t put any more assets on people’s bank accounts. If someone already has a lien on their bank account before the coronavirus hit and state of emergency, they need to file a hearing with the court to protect your stimulus check. The one exception is stimulus checks aren't protected from child support.

Kara: We have heard from a lot of people with custody issues. What can people in these situations do?

Kelsey: At the end of March, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an order basically instructing people to continue maintaining the status quo as much as possible. It’s very difficult and there aren’t any easy answers. While businesses might have closed and things are different, what hasn’t changed is you’re still a parent. This is a scary and difficult time for kids, too.

You can watch the townhall below:

The attorneys at the legal clinic have been hosting weekly "Ask a Lawyer" sessions to help more people.

Right now, attorneys are getting a lot of calls about landlord tenant issues, evictions, and emergency resources, says Chase Haller, Senior Staff Attorney for Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.

"We’re going to see people reorganizing their debt, and there’s certainly going to be a wave of evictions," Haller said. "It’s just unavoidable. This crisis has hit even harder because it’s lead to a complete shutdown of economic activity almost. So we anticipate a large wave of evictions and foreclosures."

Haller says if you need help, reach out.

"Don’t think you have to go through this crisis alone," Halle said. "Legal services and the clinic- we’re here for you if you have legal needs. We want to be as responsive as we can be."

You can call the clinic at 877-836-0730 or visit its website here.