Along with many of the other service locations impacted by Hurricane Ida, St. Charles Parish’s Access to Justice Center was hit hard. But after several months of repairs, the team is back at its Luling location and offering legal help in disaster cases along with its regular services.
The disaster case aid is being offered thanks to funding via United Way of St. Charles and could be a welcome source for several local residents who may be still embroiled in a struggle to secure necessary aid from FEMA or insurance.
“Through this grant from United Way, we can help with disaster cases from Hurricane Ida … we can open cases with legal services for those kinds of issues,” said Rachel Campbell of Louisiana Legal Services, among those who staff the help desk at the Access to Justice Center. “We can help with FEMA applications. If someone doesn’t have a clear title to their home and they need a succession done, we can help with that as well.
“Obviously, St. Charles Parish was pretty devastated and a lot of people applied for FEMA. We want people to know we’re open and available to help them.”
Through the center, Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services provides free civil legal aid and self-representation information. SLLS is a non-profit law firm offering representation, advocacy and legal education for low-income Louisiana residents.
The center is staffed and open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is open by appointment for eligible clients from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
It closed after Ida in order to deal with significant damage incurred – it took on water, windows caved, and the building had to undergo repairs. Last month, it was ready for a return.
While it was closed, the center’s staff were stationed for a time at the parish’s disaster recovery center.
“The disaster recovery center is closed at this point, but that doesn’t mean people can’t appeal FEMA decisions if they think it wasn’t a fair call,” Campbell said.
Other services provided at the center includes forms provided for divorce and custody cases, child support applications and name changes.
While the location’s self-help desk is central to the service, there are attorneys staffed there to help direct visitors to the proper resources, and visitors can apply for additional legal services if what is available at the desk is not applicable to one’s specific need.
“For people who don’t have an attorney, I think we fill a pretty big need,” Campbell said. “I think with it being back open, it will be really beneficial for St. Charles Parish.”
Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services provides legal representation to low-income Louisiana residents. Its goal is to enforce and defend their legal rights through civil legal aid, advocacy and community education.
Campbell said that an additional benefit of the United Way grant is the income level for someone to be considered financially eligible for SLLS legal services is higher than usual.
The Access to Justice Center is located at 171 Keller Street at the C.A.R.E. Center in Hahnville. One may contact the desk by phone by dialing (985) 331-3034.
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