GLS sees uptick in eviction calls during COVID-19 Pandemic
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, according to Caryn Rosencrantz, supervising attorney for the GLS Housing unit. She said there is also fear and confusion over court requirements regarding the filing of timely responses for pro se defendants as 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.
“While there is never a good time to lose your home, the uptick we’ve seen is of particular concern,” Rosencrantz said. “This is a time when everyone, including our most vulnerable seniors and single parent households, requires safe and secure shelter.”
Rosencrantz said 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.
GLS has a list of common Questions & Answers regarding civil legal needs (such as information on employment law, housing, etc.) on its blog at gulfcoastlegal.org/blog.