LAOC's Eviction Prevention Project Gets Boost from Collaborators

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Winner of a 2018 Mayo Clinic Shared Value Award, the Eviction Prevention Project of Legal Assistance of Olmsted County (LAOC) is continuing its work in the community thanks to additional funding and the help of partners.

The project, which holds clinics on Mondays and Thursdays at the Olmsted County courthouse, offers free legal help to people in court facing eviction. Thanks to a newly awarded grant from Mayo for LAOC’s overall work, a portion will be used to staff the evictions clinic, with help from attorneys with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), and members of the Mayo Clinic legal team, who are serving in a pro bono capacity. IBM attorneys are also contributing to the effort.

As of June 1, 90 of the 207 eviction cases scheduled at the Olmsted County courthouse received help from the evictions clinic. “This is what a legal aid organization needs to be doing,” said Karen Fairbairn Nath, executive director of LAOC. “There are so many people who are living one crisis from not being able to pay their landlord,” she said. Read more.

Innovations for Clients: LOON Takes Flight

Legal Organizations Online Network: LOON

Legal Organizations Online Network: LOON

By Betsy Parrell, Supervising Attorney

Starting today, staff from sixteen Minnesota legal services organizations are working toward better coordination and referrals through access to a new online tool: LOON (Legal Organizations Online Network).

As an integral part of the LawHelpMN.org rebuild project, LOON is a password-protected, online database developed to house up-to-date information about legal services available across Minnesota.  Service listings in the database include information about case types and priorities, case acceptance guidelines, clinics, and eligibility criteria. 

LOON aims to improve client referrals by enabling legal services providers to make more accurate referrals amongst each other through access to detailed, real-time data. LOON will also power the referral information that will be available to everyone on the new LawHelpMN.org, once launched.  In addition, because of LOON, staff at individual organizations no longer need to maintain and update their own legal services referral information, which can easily fall out-of-date.  

The organizations currently participating in LOON are:

  • Anishinabe Legal Services

  • Central Minnesota Legal Services

  • Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

  • Judicare of Anoka County

  • Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota

  • Legal Assistance of Dakota County

  • Legal Assistance of Olmsted County

  • Legal Rights Center

  • Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, Inc.

  • Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid

  • Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services

  • Standpoint

  • The Advocates for Human Rights

  • Tubman

  • Volunteer Attorney Program

  • Volunteer Lawyers Network

These sixteen organizations have password access to LOON, and the ability to update and maintain their own service listings.  For organizations that do not currently have password access such as specialty legal service providers, law libraries, court-based self-help services, bar association referral programs, and community mediation State Support will gradually add their services to LOON and coordinate with them to maintain and update their listings.

State Support is grateful for the expertise shared by staff members of the sixteen participating organizations. Their feedback was used to guide the development of LOON’s technical infrastructure and user interface. Staff from these organizations also worked diligently to update and verify the accuracy of their listings in anticipation of LOON’s launch today. Additionally, over 100 individuals at these organizations registered for trainings offered by State Support on how to search service listings, in order to be prepared to use LOON effectively to make referrals.

Continued coordination and communication will be critical to LOON’s success. Staff members from the participating organizations will need to communicate with each other, and with State Support, to ensure that the accuracy and quality of information in LOON, and the tool itself, can continue to improve. Working together, we can make LOON a robust, reliable tool that helps all of us better serve client needs across the legal services delivery system.

Mayo Clinic Recognizes SMRLS, LAOC, and Partners With Shared Value Award

Rochester’s famed Mayo Clinic lauded Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) and Legal Assistance of Olmsted County (LAOC) this month for their efforts to prevent evictions in Olmsted County. Along with collaborators Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Olmsted County District Court, LAOC and SMRLS received the 2018 Mayo Clinic Shared Value Award for their “Eviction Prevention” project.  

Mayo’s annual award addresses community-wide health priorities in Olmsted County, and the Eviction Prevention project is designed to help address financial stress and mental health.

Karen Fairbairn Nath, executive director of LAOC noted, “Once a notice of eviction is filed with the court, the eviction is permanently on an individual’s record and may, at minimum, prevent a person from obtaining future rental housing. This often brings on a cascading set of negative effects, including longer-term financial instability and mental health stress for individuals and families, among others.” Read more about the project and award.