Poor families swamp free legal helpline with COVID-related issues

Poor families and individuals are swamping a free Michigan legal help website seeking assistance with COVID-related issues.

Whether it's dealing with eviction, unemployment, child custody issues or questions arising from the coronavirus outbreak, Michigan residents are going to the Michigan Legal Help website seeking answers.

Angela Tripp, director of the Michigan Legal Help Program and co-managing attorney of the Michigan Poverty Law Program, says people are coming with questions about how to get jobless benefits.

"They have questions about whether they qualify," said Tripp. "How do they file."

Others are seeking questions on topics like eviction and COVID-19.

Visits last week to Michigan Legal Help, a nonprofit in partnership with the state that offers online assistance on legal problems, were up 112% over a month earlier.

Michigan Legal Help is getting 18,000 visits to its website each day. The legal organization has had to upgrade its site to keep with the increased demand for its services, said Tripp.