By Christine Bryant
Low-income individuals in the Grove City area now have another resource that advocates say is needed.
The Legal Aid Society of Columbus has opened a Grove City Legal Clinic, staffed with volunteer lawyers who are available to answer non-criminal legal questions for low-income individuals.
The clinic takes place the first Saturday of each month, with the exception of September and January. The clinic runs from 3 to 4:30 p.m., with no appointment necessary, and is located at Grove City United Methodist Church, 2684 Columbus St.
“Lawyers can also provide information on legal rights and responsibilities or other programs in the community that might be helpful for the clinic attendees,” said Dianna Parker Howie, pro bono coordinator for the Legal Aid Society of Columbus.
Typically, the organization’s clinics address issues related to landlord-tenant, family law, consumer debt, probate and estate planning, public benefits, small claims and record sealing, she said.
“Lawyers are providing advice only and are not agreeing to represent the individuals in court,” Howie said. “A member of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus staff attends each clinic, and volunteer lawyers sign up to help.”
The society is central Ohio’s oldest and largest general civil legal services organization. It provides assistance and guidance to those attempting to navigate the complex legal system.
As part of the organization’s outreach, it operates several clinics in the Columbus area that provide brief advice at no cost. During the past couple years, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus has seen more people requesting that help.
“Since 2005, there has been a 35-percent in the number of income-eligible individuals in our community,” Howie said.
The effort to bring a clinic to Grove City began when Roger Evans from the Grove City United Methodist Church expressed interest in having one in the community.
“The clinic already provides a free meal for residents of their community, and through its other outreach, they learned that many low-income individuals needed legal help,” Howie said.
With no legal advice clinic in the Grove City area, the organization saw an opportunity to help residents on the southwest side.
“The Legal Aid Society of Columbus, which sponsors this clinic, strives to provide legal clinics in underserved communities where it does not already have a presence,” Howie said.
To receive this free service, individuals must have a total gross household income at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines ($2,513 monthly for a household of one person, $5,125 monthly for a household of four people.) Individuals also must have assets below $24,180, not including an owned home or car driven for primary transportation.
Individuals also must be citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylees or refugees, or meet another exception. For more information on immigration status requirements, call (614) 224-8374.
For more information on the Grove City clinic, call (614) 241-2001 or go to columbuslegalaid.org. Volunteers can also sign up on the website.