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Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico

by Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico
Disaster Legal Aid for Communities in Puerto Rico

We can't believe its almost September. 2020 has passed in a haze of disasters, difficulties and adaptation. As with any other disasters, COVID-19 has impacted some groups and peoples with more violence. Those already displaced or with precarious housing conditions after the 2017 hurricanes and the 2020 earthquakes now experience more insecurity and inequality. Legal support with a legal empowerment perspective is urgent and relevant. 

We wanted to share some of the numbers that demonstrate the impact your donations have made possible. These stats refer to the period of March 15 (beginning of the lockdown in Puerto Rico) and August 15. We hope to convey an image of the need present when multiple disasters convey. Also, the power of every cent that you dedicate to Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico.

  • 2884 individuals have received direct legal support via our helplines (hotline and chat)
  • More than 1.2 Million people have obtained legal education through ayudalegalpr.org
  • We have prepared dozens of resources on topics such as immigrants, elders, health, housing and issues related to the rights of disaster survivors (check them out at ayudalegalpr.org)

Moreover, we have been able to win important advocacy asks. As you know, our legal empowerment model seeks to transform administrative processes that hinder access to assistance. While we support communities we also ask the Housing Department and disaster recovery agencies to reconsider how rules and guidelines impede assistance. After three years of non-stop work with these issues, on the last few weeks we have been able to win important things such as: an executive order that waives title requirements for people who await to reconstruct or rebuild their houses, a new CDBG-DR Action Plan that suspends displacements to provide the space for mitigation when that opportunity is available and participation strategies that include incorporating radio and television to the celebration of public hearings around recovery funds. 

It is certainly difficult. But 2020 has taught us that planning and strategizing with clear goals and a clear perspective of our mission as legal workers. We invite you to continue supporting this work and to spread the word.

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COVID-19 is a disaster, as are hurricanes and earthquakes. The impact of the pandemic in Puerto Rico has worsened a sequence of three years of disasters that – together with a negligent governmental response- has impaired the chances of making a dignified life in the Island. When we proposed this project, we were focused on providing legal support and education to safeguard families the chance to recover from earthquakes that, once again, left them without shelter. We were appalled by the precarity of those who had lost houses to hurricanes, foreclosures, evictions and now seismic sequences, many of them sleeping on the streets or on unsuitable terrains, waiting for assistance that we knew would be delayed.  Little did we know that two months later we would be facing another disaster. Similar to what has happened across the world, COVID-19 has left people without jobs and resources to guarantee food, health and housing, And as in any disaster, it is the impoverished communities and groups – tenants, elders, women- who are in worse conditions to face it. 

Before COVID-19 and thanks to your help, we had the chance to develop multiple legal education materials on earthquakes, available at www.ayudalegalpr.org and recuperacionjustapr.org. We launched a campaign to guarantee the access to assistance for families without a formal title over their affected houses. At brigades, visiting informal camps for the displaced, we provided direct assistance to 156 families. We provided training for more than 200 attorneys and students and invested nearly 504 pro bono hours helping families affected by earthquakes. Your support, among the support of other organizations, permitted us to that in less than two months.

Once again, legal support is essential to guarantee the exercise of rights and access to available public assistance, defend the right to housing and access to justice for families and communities in need. We have developed the first legal responses to hurricanes, earthquakes and now before the pandemic, offering multiple avenues of legal assistance and advocacy to low income families and communities around the Island. We intend to continue this work, using hotlines, legal support through chat, legal education using tech to reach people, and at brigades as soon as it is possible once again. 

We received notification about the opportunity to make the proposed project more flexible. This project is still urgent. We are a month away from a hurricane season, with increased housing vulnerability, without recovery at any level, without suitable shelters, with COVID-19. We want to ask for your support to expand this program to include disasters beyond earthquakes, including COVID-19 response and the next hurricane season preparedness. The focus will remain the same: disaster legal aid response. We ensure that the funds will be used wisely and commit to the maximum level of accountability. We wish you love, health and strength. Fuerza. 

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Organization Information

Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico

Location: San Juan - Puerto Rico
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ayudalegalpr
Project Leader:
Ariadna Godreau
San Juan, Puerto Rico
$14,885 raised of $35,000 goal
 
34 donations
$20,115 to go
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