NLADA COVID-19 Updates and Resources

The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not only exacerbated existing legal challenges faced by low-income and vulnerable people in the United States, it has also highlighted new issues in many substantive areas. Across the country, advocates in civil legal aid, public defense and affected communities are responding to ensure access to basic human needs and safety. NLADA is coordinating with an array of experts in both the delivery of legal services and access to justice, as well as experts in specific practice areas and leaders in providing civil legal aid and public defense.

This is a space for advocates to share resources and find policy developments affecting the delivery of legal services and access to justice. This page will be updated and expanded as the pandemic and its collateral consequences continue to develop. Please email David Miller with submissions you might have for consideration in the relevant categories.

Additional resources pertaining to access to justice for low-income and vulnerable people are available from the American Bar Association Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force and Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent DefendantsAssociation of Pro Bono CounselLegal Services Corporation (LSC), Management Information Exchange (MIE), Pro Bono InstituteShriver Center on Poverty Law, Voices for Civil Justice, and many other important partners highlighted on this page. If interested, you can find information on NLADA events and operations here.

Leadership, Management and Delivery

Updates

  • President Biden has signed an Executive Order extending the pause on repayment obligations for federal student loans through September. This period will continue to count for the purposes of Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

  • The federal coronavirus relief legislation enacted in December provided a further $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Organizations seeking a second round of PPP funding are eligible to do so provided they can demonstrate revenue loss of at least 25 percent and meet certain other conditions. This does not apply to organizations seeking PPP loans for the first time. 

Resources

National Partners

For older material, click here.

Court Access & Virtual Operations, Pro Bono, and Self-Help

Defense and Decarceration

For older material, click here.

Domestic Violence, Family Issues, and Children

Policy Updates

March-July

  • The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act was passed by the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate. If passed, HEROES would provide $100 million to programs under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and $48 million for shelter and assistance programs under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.
  • Several states have urged VOCA and STOP Violence Against Women grantees to apply for match waivers if they are unable to meet the current matching funds requirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need to reduce or remove cash/in-kind match. Guidance from the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime has made it easier for VOCA administrators to waive the match.
  • The Office on Violence against Women has waived the 25 percent match requirement for grants and provided additional flexibility on the use of funds by grantees.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued Guidance on Flexible Convening of Court Hearings During COVID-19
  • The CARES Act provides $45 million for Family Violence and Prevention Services formula grants without a matching requirement for funds. HHS lists the state administration offices and their respective websites here.
  • Title IV-E (foster care): Although the CARES Act does not provide new funds, the Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner sent a letter to child welfare legal and judicial leaders regarding the incorporation of technology in the COVID-19 pandemic, outlining statutory requirements the agency cannot waive and ways "courts can and should use flexible means of convening required hearings."
  • Children’s advocate groups release joint statement of principles around access to justice and advocacy during a pandemic.

Practice Resources

National Partners

Employment, Healthcare, and Public Benefits

Updates

  • Federal coronavirus relief legislation enacted in December extends the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation programs until April 5 at the $300/week level, and increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by 15 percent through June 30.

Resources

Partners

For older material, click here.

Housing, Debt, and Consumer Issues

Updates

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium has been extended to March 31.
  • The federal coronavirus relief legislation passed in December provides an additional economic impact payment of $600. It also contains $25 billion in rental assistance, 10 percent of which can be used for related services, in addition to $20m for legal assistance in eviction cases to be administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Practice Resources

Housing

Debt

National Partners

For older material, click here.

Reentry and Holistic Services

Updates

  • On September 24, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an Order certifying a nationwide class of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons, and granting the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction requiring the Treasury and IRS to stop withholding CARES Act stimulus funds from plaintiffs or any class member on the sole basis of their incarcerated status.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program created by the CARES Act requires applicants to report whether they are facing criminal charges or have had a felony conviction in the past five years. This policy has prompted advocacy efforts urging Congress and the Small Business Administration to revise their guidelines for small business relief.

Resources

Other Issues

Immigration

Policy Updates

  • The CARES Act excludes people who file their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) rather than a Social Security number, which includes undocumented immigrants, from receipt of the $1,200 cash rebate.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issues guidance on practices during the COVID-19 pandemic to immigration courts 
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides access to Medicaid services related to coronavirus testing to only those immigrants who meet federal Medicaid eligibility requirements.
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that people who seek out medical services relating to COVID-19 will not be negatively impacted in their public charge analysis as a result.

Practice Resources

National Partners

Elder Justice

Policy Updates

March-July

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has waived various restrictions on coverage, including on many telehealth services for Medicare, and on standards of care. Justice in Aging is tracking emergency modifications to State Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Programs.
  • The CARES Act includes $955 million to support Older Americans Act and Title III-B activities, including funding of Aging and Disability Resource Centers and Centers for Independent Living, nutrition services, supports for family caregivers, and elder justice protection activities, including the long-term care ombudsman. Consult your state Unit on Aging for information about funds to increase legal services. CARES also includes $200 million in funding for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for infection control measures in nursing homes. It also includes $590 million for coronavirus treatment for certain veterans, including those who are homeless veterans and those in Veterans Administration nursing homes.

Practice Resources

National Partners

Native Americans

Updates

  • The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act was passed by the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate. If passed, HEROES would provide $20 billion to assist tribal governments mitigate the fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other resources for Native communities.
  • Indian Health Service Director Michael Weahkee announces funding distributions under the CARES Act.

Resources: Tribal Organizations

Resources: Federal Government

Education

Updates

 
  • The CARES Act (Public Law 116-136, enacted on 3/27/2020) created a $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund (ESF).  See also analysis from the Center on Law and Education.
  • Proposals for much larger education funding are found in the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800, passed by the House on 5/15/2020) and in the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (S. 4112, introduced by Senator Murray and others on 6/30/2020). While neither bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate, they will form the starting point for Democrats when bi-partisan negotiations on a new COVID-19 relief package begins [which may occur in advance of the late July expiration of the unemployment benefits in the CARES Act (on July 25th, 26th, or 31st, depending on your state)].
  • US Department of Education documents, www.ed.gov/coronavirus, updated regularly:
    • This home page links to five broad topic pages (e.g., remote learning, resources for learning at home, CARES Act, waivers and flexibility.
    • The last of the five, “Program Information: FAQs and Responses,” is where you will find many of the Department’s COVID-relevant policy documents (beyond the CARES Act), often in the form of non-regulatory guidance, grouped under:
      • Elementary and Secondary Education – including, for example, a fact sheet on providing services to English learners during the pandemic (5/18/20);
      • Higher Education – including, for example, guidance for interruptions of study (various dates), Title IV frequently asked questions (5/19/20 and coronavirus student aid information for students, borrowers, and parents (4/1/20), and OCR guidance on protection of higher education students’ civil rights during the emergency (5/12/20);
      • Special Education and Rehabilitation Services – including, for example, eight new documents addressing a variety of IDEA issues, such as procedural safeguards and fiscal requirements (issued between 6/22 and 7/6/20);
      • Career, Technical and Adult Education;
      • Civil Rights – including, for example, an Office for Civil Rights fact sheet on addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting students’ civil rights (3/16/20) and a short OCR webinar on online education and website availability.
  • The Department’s Student Privacy FERPA and Virtual Learning Resources (March 2020) [not found on Department’s Coronavirus site].
  • Families First Coronavirus Act (Public Law 116-127) includes Pandemic-EBT provision allowing states to issue benefits to families with children eligible for school meals if not for COVID-19 school closures.

Resources

Personal Wellbeing & Self-Care

Calendar

Measuring COVID-19 Global Cases (Interactive Map)

(SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, copyright 2020, all rights reserved)