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Iowa Legal Aid continues to provide assistance for those in need

October 30, 2013
Times-Republican

Iowa Legal Aid provides free civil legal assistance and education that protects the fundamental rights of low-income Marshall County residents and helps ensure that their basic needs are met.

Iowa Legal Aid improves the lives of low-income Marshall County residents by addressing domestic violence; foreclosure and evictions; eligibility for public and private benefits; challenging unlawful wage and bank account garnishments, repossessions and other consumer fraud.

Iowa Legal Aid uses a multifaceted approach to service delivery that includes providing legal advice and representation using Iowa Legal Aid's own staff attorneys. It also give community legal education presentations to educate the low-income community about their legal rights and responsibilities. Because the few staff attorneys can serve only a small portion of those who qualify and need help, clients are also referred to private attorneys in Marshall County who participate in Iowa Legal Aid's Volunteer Lawyers Project. These lawyers also agree to help free of charge.

The best way to explain what Iowa Legal Aid does is by telling a real client's story. When "Melanie," received notice from the Marshalltown housing authority that her Section 8 rent assistance was going to be terminated, she knew she would need legal advice and representation to keep her housing assistance. Melanie had heard about Iowa Legal Aid from friends, so she called their toll free number, 800-532-1275, for help.

This all started after Melanie had been hospitalized for four days. While she was in the hospital, an acquaintance agreed to care for her pet. She gave the acquaintance a key to her apartment, but instead of just coming in to feed her pet, he stayed overnight without her knowledge or permission. Someone reported this to the housing authority, which resulted in her receiving the notice of termination of her Section 8 rent assistance.

Iowa Legal Aid represented Melanie at her hearing. Melanie presented statements from her landlord, who believed Melanie was a good, and honest, tenant. Melanie's friends and neighbors also corroborated her version of the events. Melanie testified about some of the financial issues that she faced and how the loss of her rent assistance would cause her to become homeless. The housing authority determined that Melanie could keep her housing assistance.

Iowa Legal Aid has been helping low-income Marshall County residents like Melanie avoid homelessness for over 36 years. To see if you have a civil legal problem that Iowa Legal Aid can help with, call 800-532-1275, or, for Spanish-language applicants, 800-272-0008, to complete an application for service by phone.

 
 

 

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