ON THIS PAGE: COVID-19 Vaccine | State and Federal Court Information | Immigration | Family Court and Domestic Violence | Eviction, Housing & Mortgages | Public Assistance | ERAP & LRAP | Economic Impact Payments | Unemployment Insurance and Employment | Social Security | Education | Consumer Protection | Small Businesses | Advance Directives | Financial, Food, and Mental Health Resources
Legal Services NYC's Access Line is OPEN and we continue to serve clients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our physical offices are closed as of March 17, 2020, our dedicated staff are working remotely on behalf of new and existing clients.
Current clients should contact their advocate's office or extension for more information about their cases.
If you are seeking legal assistance on a new matter, you can call our legal assistance hotline at 917-661-4500, Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Our staff can take calls in any language.
If you live in New York, you may be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, which are free and accessible regardless of your immigration status or whether you have insurance. Check out the NYC Department of health website for more information about the vaccine, your eligibility and how to make an appointment: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-vaccines.page
- Also read this Know Your Rights fact sheet about the Covid-19 vaccine and your eligibility here.
COURTS STATEWIDE HAVE BEGUN TO RENEW OPERATIONS BEYOND ESSENTIAL/EMERGENCY MATTERS
Courts in New York City have started electronic and virtual operations, but remain physically closed except for essential/emergency matters. Most cases will still be automatically adjourned.
For cases approved for the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF), you can now file court papers in pending cases and commence new cases electronically. For a list of the courts that participate in NYSCEF, please click here. If you do not have a lawyer and you have not opted into the NYSCEF system, you must file, serve and be served by non-electronic means.
For non-emergency cases in New York City courts that do not participate in NYSCEF, including Civil Court and Housing Court, represented parties can commence certain types of new cases by mail and can file documents in pending cases through the newly created Electronic Document Delivery System (EDDS). For more information on the EDDS, please click here. If you do not have a lawyer, you must be served by non-electronic means unless you consent in writing to receiving documents by EDDS.
Please call the Coronavirus hotline if you have any questions about your case: 833-503-0447. For the latest information on court operations, visit: http://nycourts.gov.
Southern District of New York (SDNY) and Eastern District of New York (EDNY) have implemented new COVID-19 protocols. For more information, please visit the court's website:
IMMIGRATION COURTS AND AGENCIES
Courts. Courts are now open for non-detained hearings in all New York City locations, Newark, and across the nation. The latest information on each different court location is available on the at the DOJ EOIR website. Individuals with immigration court cases can check on the status of their cases through the automated case information tool with their “A-number.” However, the tool will take a few days to reflect any announced changes.
For information about deadlines, special filing instructions, or other location-specific court information, please visit the EOIR website and refer to the standing orders for your location-specific court for the latest update.
ICE Check-Ins. 冰已经恢复现场签到. Individuals should attend all scheduled ICE check-ins. If an individual has questions or need guidance before their scheduled check-in, they should contact their local field office. For more information, please visit the ICE website.
USCIS. USCIS field offices have resumed face-to-face services to those with appointments. USCIS field offices do not allow walk-ins. USCIS will send notices to applicants to inform them of any upcoming appointments. For more information and updates, go to: http://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-to-covid-19.
Address Change. Make sure to inform the Court, ICE, and USCIS if your address or phone number changes, so that you do not miss important information about your case or pending applications.
FAMILY COURT AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
There is help available for people who are unsafe at home and who would like to file for an order of protection.
If you would like to speak to an attorney regarding orders of protection, safety planning, or other domestic violence related legal questions, please call our legal assistance hotline at 917-661-4500, Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 4pm.
Due to the ongoing risk of COVID-19 transmission, the New York City Family Court conducts proceedings by telephone, video conference, as well as in-person for individuals who do not have access to technology.
To file a new or modified petition for custody, visitation, orders of protection, child support, and spousal support:
If you are an UNREPRESENTED INDIVIDUAL, you can go to the New York City Family Court building in the county where your case is pending or where you intend to file a new case. Contact information for the Family Courts in New York City can be found below:
Bronx County Family Court
Kings County Family Court
New York County Family Court
Queens County Family Court
Richmond County Family Court
Submit the petition, motion or stipulation using the Electronic Document Delivery System (EDDS). For information on using EDDS, click HERE.
Submit the petition, motion or stipulation via email:
You can call the city's 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline for support in all languages, including access to domestic violence shelters and Safe Horizon counseling services: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673); TTY: 1-800-810-7444.
You can also chat online with Safe Horizon's SafeChat, Monday - Friday, 1pm to 6pm in English.
The Mayor's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence has put together information and Resources for Survivors During COVID-19. Here, you can learn about organizations that are ready to help you and also learn about steps that you can take on your own to make your situation safer.
EVICTIONS RESUME AS OF JANUARY 16, 2022
The “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2021” expired on January 15, 2022. As of January 16, 2022, nonpayment and holdover cases in housing court will resume in their normal course and there is no longer a moratorium on evictions. Please see the court’s January 16, 2022 administrative order HERE.
Certain procedures that were instituted during the pandemic remain in place after the expiration of the moratorium, including:
- landlords must make a motion and notify the tenant in order to apply for a warrant of eviction for judgments issued between March 16, 2020 and September 2, 2021;
- landlords must make a motion in order to seek to evict a tenant who never appeared on the case;
- tenants who have pending Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) applications will continue to benefit from a stay of the court case until their application is decided;
- and tenants may continue to raise the defense of “financial hardship” under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which may protect them from getting evicted for rent arrears accrued during the pandemic.
In addition to the above protections, tenants with a judgment of eviction may ask the court to pause their eviction for up to a year if they show extreme hardship from getting evicted, among other reasons.
Some appearances in housing court may be in-person, but most will continue to be conducted remotely.
If you are served with papers for an eviction proceeding, you can visit www.nycourts.gov/evictions/nyc, call Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795, or or visit http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/legal-services-for-tenants.page for more information about how to respond.
NOTE: tenants may continue to sue their landlord for illegal lockouts, post-eviction relief, and lack of repairs. If your landlord locks you out, call our hotline at 917-661-4500..
MORTGAGE AND TAX LIEN FORECLOSURES HAVE RESUMED AS OF JANUARY 16, 2022
The “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2021” expired on January 15, 2022. As of January 16, 2022, foreclosure cases have resumed and new foreclosure cases are being filed. You should look out for notices from the court or from the foreclosure plaintiff regarding scheduled court dates. Most court appearances are still being conducted remotely, however, the court has begun scheduling in-person appearances in some cases. You are also able to monitor your case for scheduled appearances through E-courts. It is very important that you not miss any scheduled court appearances.
While most mortgage companies have ended their forbearance programs for homeowners experiencing a hardship related to coronavirus and the economic shut-down, some mortgage companies are still offering this relief. You should contact them directly. If you previously had a forbearance and your servicer is requesting full repayment of the missed mortgage payments and not offering other options for repayment, this is a violation of state regulations and you should call our Access Line at 917-661-4500 to speak with an advocate.
Beware of mortgage borrowing scams. For more information, visit: http://www.fhfa.gov/Homeownersbuyer/MortgageAssistance/Documents/COVID-FHFA-Fraud-Flyer-482020.pdf
The annual New York City tax lien sale was held on December 17, 2021. If you completed the Tax Lien Sale Hardship Declaration with the Department of Finance, your lien should not have been sold. A complete list of properties with sold liens can be found here. If your lien was sold, you are at risk of foreclosure and should call the Access Line. If your lien was not sold, you will still have to resolve your delinquent property taxes. You can contact the Department of Finance to seek relief and enter into payment plans.
Please note that no delinquent water/sewer debts were sold in the December 2021 sale. If you have unpaid water/sewer charges, you should contact the Department of Environmental Protection to arrange a payment plan.
- Read this fact sheet if you are behind on your property taxes or water/sewer charges, which could put you at risk of foreclosure. So far, the annual tax lien sale has not been authorized for 2022.
The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) has cancelled all in-person appointments. No negative case actions will be taken at this time.
HRA in encouraging people to do everything they can through ACCESS HRA or over the phone (718-557-1399).
HRA remains open, but has closed many center locations. For more information about how to access HRA services at this time, go to: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/important-information-about-covid-19-and-your-hra-benefits.page
Households with children who would have received free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Act, if not for a school closure, are eligible to receive temporary food benefits (P-EBT). For more information about these benefits and how to receive them, visit: http://otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/
USCIS has said that seeking or using medical treatment or preventive healthcare services related to COVID-19 will NOT be considered under the public charge rule. For more information about the public charge rule, please see this USCIS webpage: http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/public-charge
Beware of scams concerning the SNAP benefit. For more information, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/news-item/fraud-alert-usda-warns-scams-targeting-snap-recipients
On June 1, New York’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance opened the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) which provides free emergency rental relief to qualifying tenants who were unable to pay rent during the pandemic. Eligible low and moderate-income households can get up to 12 months of their back rent paid, three months of future rent, and other assistance.
- Apply for the program here: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/Emergency-Rental-Assistance/
- Learn about ERAP Enroller Organizations here: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/new-york-emergency-rental-assistance-program-erap.page
- Learn more about your rights, who qualifies, and how to apply in this LSNYC Know Your Rights ERAP Fact Sheet
LANDLORD RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
LRAP is an alternative rental assistance program for landlords who tenants are unwilling to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). LRAP will pay a portion of a tenant’s rent arrears if the landlord applies and is eligible under the Office of Temporary Disability’s criteria. To be eligible, the landlord must have a tenant who has unpaid rental arrears and has either (1) left the apartment with unpaid arrears or (2) refuses to participate in the program. The landlord must prove that s/he/they has reached out to the tenant to apply for ERAP at least three times, two of which must be in writing.
There are no income eligibility requirements, however, the rent amount for the unit must be at or below 150% of the Fair Market rent for the county in which the unit is located. The landlord must also show that there the tenant has rental arrears accruing on or after March 1, 2020. A landlord can receive up to 12 months of rental arrears payments through LRAP, however, the program does not cover future rent or utility arrears. The application opened on October 7, 2021.
To apply the landlord must provide tax, proof of ownership, and other documents, as well as agree to various conditional terms of accepting the rental arrears payments, including not evicting the household on behalf of whom the LRAP payment on the basis of expired lease or holdover tenancy for one year. There are no immigration or citizen status requirements to participate in LRAP.
See the Office of Temporary Disability’s LRAP webpage for more information.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, eligible individuals may receive a third Economic Impact Payment of up to $1400 for individuals, up to $2800 for married couples, and up to $1400 for each qualifying dependent. This payment is an advanced tax credit; it is not a loan or taxable income.
Payments should be automatic for eligible individuals who filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and individuals who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veterans Affairs (VA Compensation and Pension) benefits. Payments should also be automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first economic impact payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool by November 21, 2020 or who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.
Payments should also be automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first or second economic impact payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool during the times when it was open, or who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.
Individuals who were eligible for the third Economic Impact Payment but did not receive their payment may still be eligible to receive a payment in 2022 when they file their 2021 tax return. There is still time to do so, even though the regular filing deadline has passed.
For more information about Economic Impact Payments, including whether you are eligible and how much you should receive, you can go to the IRS website.
On April 18, 2020, the New York Attorney General issued legal guidance saying that Economic Impact Payments are exempt from garnishment under New York law. This means that banks and debt collectors cannot freeze or seize stimulus payments that are sent to New Yorkers. This does not apply to actions taken by NYS, including the collection of past due child support. Economic Impact Payments paid as part of a tax refund will not be taken to satisfy past-due federal tax debt, but may be taken to satisfy other debts that the US Treasury is authorized to collect.
Beware of scams concerning these payments. For more information, visit: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/want-get-your-coronavirus-relief-check-scammers-do-too
People can file for unemployment insurance in New York State online or by phone at 888-209-8124 between the hours of 8 AM - 7:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Instructions on how to file online are available here.
Due to issues with their call center and website resulting from high volume, the NYS Department of Labor has said that they will backdate any claim for unemployment to the date that you became unemployed. New York State has also waived the seven-day waiting period for unemployment insurance for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, 2020, expands eligibility for unemployment benefits and the amount of benefits eligible workers will receive. On March 11, 2021, the President signed into law the American Rescue Plan. The Plan has once again extended federal unemployment benefits, making extended benefits available from March 14, 2021 through September 6, 2021. Those collecting unemployment benefits during this time period will also be eligible to receive an extra $300/week on top of their weekly benefit rate.
Depending on adjusted gross income, unemployment beneficiaries can also receive a federal tax exemption on up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits an individual received in 2020.
For more information, see:
- Overview of Unemployment Insurance in NYS & Eligibility Requirements
- How to Apply for Unemployment in New York Fact Sheet
- FAQs about Unemployment Insurance
- NYS Dept. of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Assistance website
Beware of scams concerning unemployment insurance applications. For more information, visit: http://www.oig.dol.gov/public/media/DOL-OIG%20UI%20Fraud%20Alert.pdf
EMPLOYMENT AND COVID-19
The federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This law requires certain employers to provide their employees with emergency paid leave in specified situations related to COVID-19, including if you are unable to work because you are caring for a minor child whose school or childcare is closed due to COVID-19. The provisions of this law will apply through December 31, 2020. From January 1, 2021 until March 31, 2021, employers may voluntarily offer FFCRA leave, but are no longer required to do so.
NYS also recently passed an emergency paid leave law that provides paid leave to employees who are subject to a government-issued mandatory or precautionary order to quarantine or to isolate due to COVID-19. The NYC Commissioner of Health has issued an Order to make it easier for NYC residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have symptoms of COVID-19 to receive the documentation necessary to claim paid sick leave under this law. For more information on the Commissioner’s Order and how to use it, click here.
NYC's Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law provides eligible employees with up to 40 hours (5 days) of sick leave each calendar year.
NYS also has Paid Family Leave, which provides eligible employees with job-protected, paid leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- For an explanation of the various programs for workers and eligibility requirements, the New York City Low Wage Workers Task Force (LWWTF) created this fact sheet.
Workers who are at higher risk from COVID-19 due to an underlying health condition and who want to continue working may be entitled to work from home as a reasonable accommodation under federal, State and City law.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
The Social Security Administration has announced it will be opening its Field Offices on Thursday, April 7, 2022 for In-Person services and no appointment is needed.
LSNYC advises clients that wish to seek services in-person at SSA Field Offices to arrive early – as lines are expected to be longer than usual. SSA’s phone system is not likely to be fixed until the late Fall – so clients should not be encouraged to leave field offices by SSA Staff and conduct their business by phone. If clients are being told to leave and call later – LSNYC wants to hear about that – so please call our Intake line for assistance if you are having difficulty getting your issue resolved at the local Field Office.
All of SSA’s Online Services will continue.
In addition, SSA’s Office of Hearing Operations will start scheduling In-Person Hearings in June. You may still elect to conduct your Hearing by video or telephone going forward.
Beginning in 2022, NYC public schools have moved completely to in-person learning. Please visit the NYC Department of Education's Coronavirus Information & Updates page here for the most up-to-date Covid information for your school.
If you believe your children were denied special education services or remote learning during the pandemic or their education rights are currently being violated, please contact our Access Line at 917-661-4500 to seek legal assistance.
We also provide assistance to families in suspension matters, support in accessing home instruction for eligible students, and support to parents with limited English proficiency who believe they are being denied appropriate translation and interpretation services to ensure they get the opportunity to meaningfully participate in their child's education.
THE MORATORIUM ON UTILITY SHUT-OFFS HAS ENDED
The moratorium on utility service shutoffs during the COVID-19 state of emergency ended on December 21, 2021. For information on financial assistance for utility arrears, visit http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/energy-assistance.page.
STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS
The U.S. Department of Education announced that it will extend the student loan protections of the CARES Act through August 31, 2022.
If you made a payment on or after March 13, 2020, you can have your payment refunded by asking your loan servicer. While payments are suspended during this time period, the interest rate will be reduced to 0% and the month of a suspended loan payment will be treated as if a payment had been made for purposes of loan forgiveness and loan rehabilitation. The suspension period will not result in a negative credit reporting. Involuntary collection of federal student loans (wage garnishment, deduction of tax refund, offset of federal benefits) has also been suspended from March 13, 2020 through August 31, 2022.
For more information, go to: http://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
- COVID-19 Student Loan FAQs
- COVID-19 Consumer FAQs
- COVID-19 Debt Collection FAQs
- NCLC: Major Consumer Protections Announced in Response to COVID-19
Beware of various consumer-related scams. For more information, visit: http://www.fcc.gov/covid-scams and http://oag.dc.gov/blog/consumer-alert-covid-19-pepco-scam
SMALL BUSINESSES AND SELF-EMPLOYED INDIVIDUALS
The CARES Act creates a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program to help people who lose work as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Self-employed individuals, freelancers, and independent contractors can apply for benefits through the PUA program.
The CARES Act also provides for emergency grants and loans for small businesses.
For more information on financial assistance programs for small businesses, go to: http://www.startsmallthinkbig.org/covid19. Beware of scams concerning small business grants. For more information, visit: http://www.sba.gov/document/report--sba-programs-scams-fraud-alerts
Covid-19 continues to devastate communities across the US, especially communities of color who have experienced infections and deaths at much higher rates. In order to prepare for the future, LSNYC has created a guide to help you prepare “Advance Directives,” legal documents that can help you protect you and your loved ones, improve your quality of life, and make sure that your future reflects your values. This guide, which does not constitute legal advice, includes guidance on creating a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney, and Standby Guardianship.
- Read LSNYC’s guide to Advance Directives here. (UPDATED)
- Click here for resources for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers
- Click here for funds for bartenders out of work due to COVID-19.
- Click here for resources for restaurant workers affected by COVID-19
- Click here for information about NYC Mutual Aid Networks
- Click here for information about resources for undocumented people in NYC
- Click here for free diaper assistance
- Click here for free financial counseling services by phone
- Click here for free online tax filing services
- NYC Department of Education is providing free meals to students and adults. You can also text "NYC FOOD" or “NYC COMIDA” to 877-877 to find a location.
- NeON Nutrition Kitchen Food Pantry
- NYC Food Delivery Assistance
- COVID-19 Food Hub NYC
- NYC food pantries directories
- Citymeals on Wheels is still delivering emergency meals to homebound seniors/elderly.
- City Harvest Mobile Food Pantries
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
- National Suicide Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255
- NYC Well is your connection to free, confidential mental health support. Speak to a counselor via phone, text, or chat and get access to mental health and substance use services, in more than 200 languages, 24/7/365. Call 1-888-NYC-WEL or text “WELL to 65173
- If you are experiencing increased anxiety due to the coronavirus emergency, you can call the NY State Office of Mental Health Emotional Support Line at 844-863-9314 to receive free and confidential support
- For free food locations, click here or text "NYC FOOD" to 877-877 or visit Food Bank for New York City
- New York State COVID-19 website
- New York City COVID-19 Services & Resources website
- New York City Agency Service Suspensions and Reductions