Florida Legal Services
 

Our projects cross boundaries.

 
 

How we work

an integrated approach

Florida Legal Services advocates for vulnerable populations and their whole legal needs. Our attorneys practice in all of Florida's state and federal courts. We work on the most pressing and current issues faced by low-income and disenfranchised Floridians and embrace a Community Lawyering model of law practice.

We affect systemic change for:

Low-wage earners and disenfranchised job seekers

People in need of health care and prescription drugs

Domestic violence survivors

Vulnerable seniors

Children with special needs and at-risk youth

People seeking safe, fair and affordable housing

Institutionalized people (Florida Institutional Legal Services Project)

Immigrants and migrant workers (Migrant Farmworker Justice Project)

People facing racial, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination

 

 

 
 
Photo by wollwerth/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by wollwerth/iStock / Getty Images
 

Resources (updated daily or more frequently)

Florida's toll-free Disaster Legal Services Hotline Number is 866-550-2929. This is a dedicated Hurricane Irma disaster line, funded by FEMA and supported by the American Bar Association, the Florida Board of Governors, and the Florida Young Lawyers Division, where you may leave a message for a lawyer to return your call. For more information about this resource, click here.

Visit the Florida Law Help Website for additional disaster relief information and resources.

FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA) 

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) offers assistance for sheltering (including paying for a hotel) and money for home repairs, housing, and other assistance (including medical, dental, funeral, essential household items, storage, and vehicle assistance). FEMA assistance does not have to be repaid.

1.800.621.FEMA
(1.800.621.3362)

FEMA Frequently Asked Questions (English)

FEMA Frequently Asked Questions (Spanish)

FEMA Frequently Asked Questions (Haitian Creole)

FEMA Benefits Requirements

FEMA’s Operation Blue Roof Program is now available in some counties to homeowners impacted by Irma. This program provides  blue plastic sheeting to reduce further damage to property until permanent repairs can be made.

 

JOB LOSS

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has prepared a Hurricane Irma fact sheet with basic information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). To qualify for DUA, you must be out of work as a direct result of Irma and not qualify for regular Reemployment Assistance. DUA is available for weeks of unemployment beginning September 10, 2017 until ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­March 17, 2018. DUA benefits do not have to be repaid.

Apply online for Disaster Unemployment Assistance here.

You can also call 1-800-385-3920 Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Most people only have until about October 16, 2017 to apply.

 

TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF)

TANF pays money to low-income families with dependent children and pregnant women in their third trimester to help pay for rent, utilities, and other household expenses. TANF is not a disaster program but may help families who have been impacted by Irma. TANF benefits do not have to be repaid.

Apply for TANF online. Or you can apply for TANF on a paper application that can be mailed, faxed, or returned to your local Customer Service Center. Download the paper application here.

MEDICAID

Medicaid pays for medically necessary services for low-income individuals and families. Medicaid is not a disaster program but may help families who have been impacted by Irma. Medicaid benefits do not have to be repaid.

Apply for Medicaid online. Or you can apply for Medicaid on a paper application that you can mail, fax, or return to your local Customer Service Center. Download the paper application here.
 

MORTGAGE RELIEF

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have instructed loan servicers to extend a 90-day forbearance due to Irma. http://www.freddiemac.com/about/hurricane-relief.html

 

EDUCATION

Florida Virtual School (FLVS)  will provide remote access to educational resources to all Florida students who have been displaced by Hurricane Irma. Go to www.flvs.net to begin the registration process or email info@flvs.net for special accommodations. This does not replace Florida’s obligations under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

 

OTHER RESOURCES

Call 2-1-1 for general shelter advice. If the call fails, text IRMA to 898-211 for help by text.

Visit the national Disaster Legal Aid Website

The Florida Disaster Website provides resources for shelters by county, evacuation zones, traffic updates, road closures, and power outages. Florida Disaster Website and Florida Emergency Information Line - 1-800-342-3557

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES CONSUMER HELPLINE
1.877.MY.FL.CFO
(1.877.693.5236) 

DFS STORM HOTLINE
1.800.22.STORM
(1.800.227.8676) 

AMERICAN RED CROSS
1.866.GET.INFO
(1.866.438.4636) 

legal assistance is critical...

Legal aid provides critical resources for all people surviving natural disasters. We help people find safe, secure housing, stand up against discrimination, navigate insurance claims, provide fraud protections, and assist with reproduction of wills or other lost life planning documents.

For low-income families, who often have little power or influence, any loss of property or income has a disproportionately heavy impact. Legal aid helps connect people with disaster recovery networks and obtain FEMA benefits and other insurance benefits. We also assist with Landlord/Tenant disputes and foreclosure problems.

Donate Now Online
 

SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) runs SNAP, which used to be known as “Food Stamps.” There are 3 different ways that this program may be able to help you buy  food. SNAP benefits do not have to be repaid.


1. Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP), which will help many people who were caught in Irma even if they would not normally qualify for SNAP. Apply for D-SNAP online. However, you will not be able to apply for D-SNAP until DCF officially starts the program. DCF working to enact a DSNAP assistance program. The most up-to-date and accurate information on SNAP benefits and changes will be posted on the ACCESS Florida webpage. There is misinformation currently circulating on social media that indicates that Disaster SNAP is available to any individual who lost power for more than two hours – this is FALSE. Additional scams and rumors may arise. Check the ACCESS Florida webpage for accurate information.


2. The second is Replacement SNAP, which provides current SNAP recipients with more SNAP benefits to pay for food they lost in Irma. Apply for replacement SNAP by filling out a Food Assistance Replacement Authorization form # CF-ES 3515. Return the form to DCF by mail, fax, or in person within 10 days of your loss. Find contact information for local DCF offices here.


3. Regular SNAP, if you are low income and in need of food assistance.
Apply for regular SNAP online here. You can also apply for regular SNAP on a paper application that can be mailed, faxed or returned to your local Customer Service Center. Click here to downloaded a paper form

Regular SNAP Benefits now extended to hot food through 9/30/17

Current food assistance households in the following counties lost power for four or more hours and will automatically receive 40% of their food assistance allotment for September 2017 to replace food loss. Households that experienced  a greater loss than 40% will be required to  submit documentation (e.g., affidavits, photos, etc). Contact FLS if you experience roadblocks in obtaining this additional assistance. This rule applies to the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Desoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Glades, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Suwanee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, and Wakulla.  

 

HURRICANE FOOD PACKAGES
Persons impacted by Irma can get food packages through the Disaster Household Distribution (DHD) program run by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in collaboration with Feeding Florida and Farm Share and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is a short-term program until D-SNAP is implemented. Not all counties are participating yet.

You do not have to apply for Hurricane Food Packages and no documentation is needed. Simply go to your local distribution location at the specified time to get a food package. For locations and times, go to: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Food-Nutrition-and-Wellness/HurricaneFoodPackages

Migrant Farmworker Justice Project


The Migrant Farmworker Justice Project (MFJP) provides legal assistance to farmworkers working in Florida, including migrant or seasonal farmworkers and temporary agricultural workers under the H-2A visa program. MFJP also provides legal representation to temporary non-agricultural workers under the H-2B visa program and represents clients with work-related legal issues in federal and state courts or administrative proceedings, such as unpaid wages, violations of working and housing conditions, breach of employment contract matters, employment discrimination, and unemployment insurance. MFJP works closely with community services organizations serving the farmworker community throughout Florida.


Florida Institutional Legal Services Project

The Florida Institutional Legal Services (FILS) Project is dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of indigent people in state custody by providing high quality legal services. FILS also works to end mass incarceration in Florida and the reliance on the criminal justice system to resolve social issues. FILS represents juveniles, immigrants, inmates, prisoners and other detainees in a wide variety of state and federal institutions. Our advocates represent the institutionalized and the recently released in individual cases, class actions, and impact litigation. We educate the public about institutional conditions and provide technical assistance to other attorneys and advocates. Maximizing our relatively small resources, FILS litigates proactively to reform existing law. FILS strives to empower our clients, who enjoy the fewest protections and least access to legal resources.

The FILS Project also publishes the Florida Manual for Incarcerated Parents. This Manual is designed to help parents who are incarcerated in Florida prisons and jails understand their rights and responsibilities as parents. FILS encourages the widest distribution of this manual. You are welcome to photocopy or reproduce this material, but if you do, please copy the manual in its entirety and please do not charge a fee for the copies. 


Health Advocacy

Our state-wide Health Advocacy project works with all Florida Legal Services projects to increase Florida families' access to physical and mental health care and prescription drugs. Our advocates advance our priorities through legislative advocacy, collaboration with other community stakeholders, and impact and class action litigation.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG HELPLINE AND PUBLICATIONS

Medicaid Publications


Domestic Violence Hotline

Our attorneys work in collaboration with Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to provide state-wide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence. Additionally, we provide training to other DV advocates on a range of civil legal issues affecting DV victims. Our attorneys use their substantive expertise to identify and address systems, laws and policies which work against DV victims and their children staying safe and achieving economic security.

learn more


Fair and Affordable Housing

Our Fair and Affordable Housing project works statewide to preserve affordable housing, support the creation of new affordable housing in areas of opportunity and to promote fair housing for vulnerable populations.  Our advocates advance our priorities through legislative advocacy, collaboration with other community stakeholders, and impact and class action litigation.


Economic Opportunity

Our Economic Opportunity Project strengthens the economic opportunities of low-income and disenfranchised Floridians. We secure the safety net that protects vulnerable Floridians through effective and innovative systemic strategies to advance public policy and law.  We believe that economic opportunity is the cornerstone to preventing poverty.


Children's Advocacy

Our children’s advocacy project is dedicated to ensuring that all Florida’s children receive the opportunities, supports, and services they need to lead safe, healthy, and productive lives. Our advocates engage in strategic litigation, as well as legislative and administrative advocacy at both the state and federal levels, to advance the rights of children and youth and improve government systems and programs designed to serve children.  


Advocate Training Initiatives

We provide trainings and conferences for legal aid organizations, pro bono attorneys, and advocates throughout the state of Florida.

Visit this page of the Florida Advocate website for information about upcoming training events in Florida.

florida Racial Justice fellows

practice area/umbrella groups

Florida probono.org

statewide resources for legal advocates (Fladvocate.org)

statewide resources for consumers or those with legal questions (Florida LawHelp) 

Florida Legal Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Our policy is to provide a fair and equal employment opportunity for associates and job applicants regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability.  FLS does not condone or tolerate an atmosphere of intimidation or harassment of any form and requires the cooperation of all associates in maintaining a discrimination and harassment-free atmosphere.