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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jul. 7, 202003:25 PM EST

Hancock Whitney bank donates $10,000 to legal aid

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Jacksonville Area Legal Aid will use the money to help people after the pandemic eviction moratorium expires.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

 Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Inc. received a $10,000 contribution from Hancock Whitney, a bank with branches in Deerwood and Ponte Vedra.

JALA will use the money to help low- and moderate-income households who may be subject to eviction because they have experienced job loss, furlough or a reduction in hours of work related to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended the moratorium on evictions related to the pandemic until Aug. 2.

JALA President and CEO Jim Kowalski said the civil legal aid provider anticipates a surge in requests for help when the suspension of evictions expires.

“Our goal is to keep as many of our neighbors safely housed as possible throughout the pandemic and the eventual economic recovery, when they can return to work,” Kowalski said.

The donation will provide legal counsel for people facing eviction in Northeast Florida who would not otherwise be able to afford to retain an attorney to represent them.

Kowalski said the number of people who will need help when the eviction moratorium eventually expires is difficult to predict, but estimates are that as many as 30% of renters and homeowners in Florida were not able to pay their rent or mortgage in June.

“No doubt, it will be more than legal aid can handle. There are only about 500 legal aid attorneys in the state and about half of the residents can qualify for legal aid,” Kowalski said.

Visit jaxlegalaid.org for more information about assistance related to eviction proceedings.

In April, Hancock Whitney made a $2.5 million contribution to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic, including $710,000 contributed to fund housing assistance and legal services that provide eviction representation in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

The money also helped to stock food pantries, provide face masks to residents and first responders, and support community health centers.

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