COVID-19 and Civil Legal Aid

As the COVID-19 pandemic creates many new legal challenges for low-income people across the state, the Legal Foundation of Washington remains committed to providing stable, reliable funding and support for our grantees as they respond quickly to meet the needs of clients while keeping staff and volunteers safe.

Legal aid is a vital component of our state’s front line COVID-19 response, and programs are adapting to provide urgent services and advocacy. Skyrocketing unemployment needs and denials of benefits, housing insecurity, disputes over medical and consumer debt, and many other conflicts caused by the pandemic can only be resolved through the civil justice system.

And many of those most harmed by systemic injustice, including communities of color, immigrants, and incarcerated people, are also most at-risk to the health and economic impacts of the virus.

Watch our Virtual Town Hall with legal leaders on how COVID-19 has impacted access to justice. 

How You Can Help

Our grantees prove every day that civil legal aid is a lifeline in a time of crisis. As Washington responds to and recovers from this crisis, our mission remains essential: ensuring that poverty and race are not barriers to justice.

Please donate to fund legal aid for our most vulnerable neighbors:

Donate

Attorneys can also assist legal aid providers by volunteering your time:

Learn more about pro bono opportunities through the Washington State Bar Association.

Resources

For information about receiving legal help:

Read the COVID-19 resource guide from the Northwest Justice Project, Office of Civil Legal Aid, and Equal Justice Coalition.

The guide is also available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

For people without immigration status:

Columbia Legal Services offers a fact sheet on access to health care, employment, housing, and other public benefits in English and Spanish.

For providers:

Read the memo to grantees from LFW Board & Staff.

Watch our webinar on providing legal services remotely.

News and Updates

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest on the legal aid community’s response.

Read the Seattle Times op-ed by former WA Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst and LFW board member Fred Rivera.

Read the Tacoma News Tribune op-ed by Access to Justice Board Chair Salvador A. Mungia and former WA Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Read the Columbian op-ed by State Sen. Ann Rivers and State Rep. Monica Stonier.

View selected recent media coverage of grantee services and advocacy around COVID-19:

9/25 – Marketplace – Many are still waiting for unemployment, months later
9/11 – NBC News – 12 million Americans still waiting for unemployment benefits
8/24 – Politico – Economy hurting after Congress fails to act on stimulus
8/21 – South Seattle Emerald – Community Exposes Harmful, Racist COVID-19 Response
8/20 – Seattle Times – Unemployment claims keep falling, but many are still waiting for benefits
8/19 – CNN – ‘A growing sense of panic’ with no fresh federal relief in sight
8/13 – KING-TV – Gig and part-time workers may be underpaid on unemployment benefits
7/29 – KXLY-TV – Spokane Bar Assoc. announces project to help tenants struggling with eviction
7/29 – Kitsap Sun – Kitsap Co. designates more federal relief funding for housing assistance
7/28 – The Columbian – Washington works to launch rental aid program
7/23 – Q13-TV – Unemployment benefits backlog improving, thousands await relief
7/23 – New York Times – Months into joblessness, some still struggle to get benefits
7/22 – Spokane Spokesman-Review – SCBA gets grant to help stave off ‘tsunami of evictions’
7/14 – The Appeal – A national evictions cliff is coming. The legal system makes it worse
7/9 – Q13-TV – Legal non-profit urges those awaiting benefits to contact lawmakers
7/2 – New York Times – Fradulent Jobless Claims Slow Relief to the Truly Desperate
6/29 – Seattle Times – Reynolds 6 illuminating outbreaks officials would rather keep dark
6/29 – Crosscut – Yakima Co. farmworkers called ‘sacrificial lambs’ of pandemic
6/25 – Seattle Times – WA unemployment agency faces widening legal fight
6/25 – KING-TV – What WA residents should know about the eviction moratorium
6/22 – KIRO Radio – WA petition wants unemployment claims processed in timely fashion
6/17 – KING-TV – Group promises to help unemployment snags, including at Supreme Court
6/17 – KNKX – Legal help may be coming for employees not rehired after COVID
6/15 – Wenatchee World – Agricultural industry shows streak of positive COVID-19 tests
6/12 – Washington Post – Unemployed workers face delays as states race to stamp out scams
6/11 – Buzzfeed – Immigrants Delayed By Coronavirus Sue To Be Naturalized In Time To Vote
6/7 – The Columbian – Extension of eviction moratorium buys time for Clark Co. renters
6/7 – Tacoma News Tribune – Farmworkers’ union sues state over COVID-19 emergency rules
6/6 – Tacoma News Tribune – DOC sent men from work release back to prison, families allege
6/5 – Spokane Spokesman-Review – The need for legal aid an unseen front in coronavirus crisis
6/5 – Seattle Times – WA sued for halting benefits during fraud investigation
6/5 – NW News Network – Frustrated by delayed benefits, workers turn to state Supreme Court
6/1 – Ellensburg Daily Record – Legal help offered to those having trouble paying rent
5/29 – CNN – Millions of freelancers still wait for coronavirus unemployment benefits
5/28 – Politico – 2.1 million new unemployment claims filed, as workers struggle to get benefits
5/21 – Yakima Herald-Republic – Worker complaint alleges retaliation against strikers
5/15 – Bloomberg – Millions in U.S. Are On Edge, Waiting for Jobless Benefits
5/14 – KAPP-KVEW-TV – Q&A: Rental rights during COVID-19, free legal help available
5/13 – Seattle Times – Seattle public health doctor sues after being denied green card
5/12 – The Markup – Why Is It So Hard for Gig Workers to Get Unemployment Benefits?
5/2 – Spokane Spokesman-Review – On the Front Lines: Lawyer helps the unemployed
4/29 – The Columbian – Clark County groups assist with rent amid pandemic
4/23 – New York Times – Jobless Numbers Are ‘Eye-Watering’ But Understate the Crisis
4/23 – Crosscut – Advocates seek early release for incarcerated youth amid COVID-19
4/22 – Buzzfeed – Landlords Are Illegally Evicting Tenants During The Coronavirus Pandemic
4/22 – Wenatchee World – Confined housing and lack of info: Farmworkers brace for COVID-19
4/19 – Tri-City Herald – Tri-Cities renters sent eviction notices despite WA moratorium
4/17 – Tri-City Herald – Inslee extends eviction moratorium and bans rent hikes, late fees
4/16 – Seattle Times – ICE releases some detainees from Tacoma center
4/16 – KXLY-TV – Having trouble filing for unemployment? There’s a local resource
4/15 – Yakima Herald-Republic – Relief fund for undocumented workers sees big demand
4/13 – Seattle Times – State to furlough as many as 950 prisoners in bid to limit outbreaks
4/12 – Seattle Times – As farm work carries on, some worry about becoming new epicenter
4/10 – KIRO-TV – Jesse Jones explains what to do if you get an eviction notice in April
4/9 – KXLY-TV – Living in uncertainty, making ends meet during COVID-19 pandemic
4/6 – Yahoo! – Effort To Release Inmates At Risk For Coronavirus Underway in WA
4/6 – Bloomberg – ICE Cites Bunk-Bed Barriers to Defend Distancing of Migrants
4/4 – The Columbian – Eviction moratorium creates confusion for Clark County renters
4/2 – Tacoma News Tribune – Have a legal question about COVID-19?
4/2 – Sojourners – The U.S. Prison System Poses a Public Health Threat
4/2 – The Columbian – Clark County attorneys navigate legal system amid pandemic
4/2 – Bellingham Herald – Rent and bills are due for Whatcom residents. What if you can’t pay?
3/30 – Tacoma News Tribune – Inmates seeking release will be heard by State Supreme Court
3/26 – Associated Press – 2 virus-vulnerable detainees released from immigration jail
3/25 – Seattle Times – Inmates with health problems sue to force release over coronavirus fears
3/18 – KXLY-TV – “It’s a perfect incubator for COVID-19”: Activists want some inmates released
3/17 – Q13-TV – Advocates urge Governor to release susceptible prisoners
3/17 – Seattle Times – Advocacy groups urge Inslee to release thousands from WA prisons
3/17 – Reuters – As U.S. unemployment claims surge, know your status
3/16 – Crosscut – Coronavirus outbreak prompts call for ICE to release at-risk detainees
3/16 – The Columbian – Legal groups seek moratorium on evictions in Clark County
3/13 – Time – At WA Immigrant Detention Center, Attorneys Believe Outbreak is Inevitable
3/12 – Seattle Times – As virus slows Seattle’s economy, tenants raise concerns about evictions