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In order to ensure our collective health and safety, we are being called to practice physical distancing, work from home and get health screenings or care – all of which are luxuries to many. This is especially true for low-income and marginalized communities who are negatively affected by multiple social determinants of health, including people with disabilities; workers who do not have the option of staying home; people experiencing homelessness and who lack access to affordable, safe, and healthy housing; people of color; immigrants and refugees and seniors.
With warmer weather and vaccines are more readily available – there is a sense of hope! But for many the crisis is only beginning. Minnesota’s eviction moratorium provides protection for many renters, but many find themselves facing eviction after the moratorium expires.
According to the Star Tribune, the eviction moratorium expiration will leave tens of thousands of Minnesotans at risk of eviction for nonpayment. Nationwide, according to the American Bar Association (ABA), “the potential coming eviction crisis has the potential to force 30 to 40 million people (29-43 percent of renter households) from their homes.”
For tenants going through an eviction, both during the pandemic and after, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) has a Housing Unit which provides legal, financial and mediation assistance. We assist tenants in understanding their legal rights, getting funding to pay back rent, and mediating agreements between parties. The Housing Unit helps tenants who find themselves in uninhabitable living situations, while our Government Benefits Unit connects our clients to resources to ensure basic needs are met. Additionally, we represent seniors in cases that involve benefits, housing and accommodations, nursing home payment and conditions, utility shut-offs and debt collection.
At SMRLS, we know our work is not finished and the COVID-19 crisis may get worse before it gets better for many people. Please partner with us during this time of healing.
What your help means to SMRLS and our clients:
$50 provides an empowering consultation between a patient and lawyer.
$100 provides direct communication between a lawyer and a patient’s landlord regarding maintaining safe property.
$200 secures safe and stable housing for a patient facing eviction or homelessness .
$1,000 provides legal support, including court appearances, for an entire family facing housing, security, or immigration challenges.
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) provides free, high quality legal services to low-income people in critical civil matters, helping individuals and families maintain freedom from hunger, homelessness, sickness and abuse. Founded in 1909, SMRLS is Minnesota's oldest legal aid provider. The firm serves the 33 counties of Southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities' East Metro, and 39% of the state's low-income population.
Mission: To provide a full range of high quality legal services to low-income persons and eligible client groups in civil matters, in a respectful manner which enables clients to (1) enforce their legal rights; (2) obtain effective access to the courts, administrative agencies and forums which constitute our system of justice; (3) maintain freedom from hunger, homelessness, sickness and abuse; (4) empower persons and assure equal opportunity, thus, helping people to help themselves and become economically self-reliant, to the extent their individual abilities and circumstances permit.
SMRLS, through a diverse, respectful and fair working environment, and legal assistance and community education activities, promotes and respects the dignity of low-income persons and seeks new and effective solutions to the critical and common legal problems of low-income persons which arise in a broad community context. BECAUSE JUSTICE MATTERS.
Learn more at www.smrls.org
Visit us on Facebook and Twitter at @smrlsmn