With New York City, Long Island, Westchester and other neighboring counties still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, LawHelp NY is making available online a compilation of disaster and recovery assistance resources. The resources are updated daily and provide information on everything from how to replace spoiled food purchased with SNAP (food stamp) benefits and how to access disaster unemployment assistance to how to complain about price gouging to the NYS Attorney General and special assistance for medically vulnerable seniors.
This information is provided to the public through a combination of LawHelp/NY blogs in English and Spanish, and from the website’s Public Benefits and Housing topic area that direct the public to easy-to-read disaster and recovery information and referrals to free legal services.
LawHelp/NY also provides LiveHelp, online, real-time chat assistance. LawHelpNY volunteer (pro bono) navigators are able to provide personalized service and lead visitors directly to the disaster and recovery resources they most need.
The importance of circulating reliable information to affected counties quickly is essential. For example, in the 9 NY counties (including the NYC 5 boroughs) declared disaster areas, people may be able to get Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) even if they would not normally be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. In addition, numerous legal aid organizations are stepping up to help victims with a wide range of problems, and many are going directly to the communities in need with mobile units and legal help tents and/or desks within other agencies based in the affected communities. Their services are highlighted in the blogs.
To access the blogs, go to www.mynewyorklegalhelp.com/
LawHelpNY is New York’s sole statewide online source of free legal aid referrals, know-your-rights information and a variety of self-help tools. LawHelpNY is maintained by the New York LawHelp Consortium, a collaboration of 10 key legal aid organizations, pro bono advocates and bar associations, including: The City Bar Justice Center; Pro Bono Net, Inc.; Legal Services – NYC; The Legal Aid Society (New York City); Volunteers of Legal Service; Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Legal Assistance of Western NY, Inc., The Empire Justice Center, the New York State Bar Association, and Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
LawHelpNY was launched in 2001 and now serves more than 500,000 visitors a year.