COVID H.E.L.P. Frequently Asked Questions
A: COVID HELP (Housing and Economic Loss Prevention) is a project of a statewide network of Illinois legal aid non for profit organizations that provide legal advice and representation to help people in Illinois experiencing common legal problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A: By visiting http://covidhelpillinois.org, you can interact with one of COVID HELP’s virtual legal assistant chat bots about your legal problem, to get accurate and reliable legal information, be directed to other online legal resources that are on point to your problem, and to connect with legal aid programs around Illinois that help with your kind of legal problem.
Consumer (including bankruptcy)
Housing (including eviction and foreclosure)
Probate (estate planning, estates and guardianships)
If you have some other type of legal problem, COVID HELP is still a fast way to direct you to general online legal resources.
A: You can use COVID HELP multiple times if you have several legal problems. Each legal subject area is a different chat bot, so after you finish with one bot, you can start again http://covidhelpillinois.org with another bot for your additional legal problem.
A: If you want to browse the legal aid programs that are available in your area, go to the COVID HELP resource page.
A: No, the chat bots are not a real time conversation with an attorney, but their software logic has been created by legal aid attorneys. By answering a series of questions about your legal problem, you will learn helpful legal information, and be pointed to other online legal resources, as well as connected to the legal aid programs in your area that might be able to help you further.
A: No, interacting with the chat bots online is not the same as getting specific legal advice from an attorney in person. COVID HELP provides legal information, not legal advice that is very specific to an individual person’s situation. While nothing can fully take the place of having a legal consultation with an attorney directly, COVID HELP can give you legal information that applies to your legal issue, can point you to online legal resources about the problem, and direct you to any available legal aid that exists for your problem, in your area. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney if you want specific legal advice for your particular situation.
A: Yes, there is no charge to use the COVID HELP bots. The bots will point you to free resources, including legal aid. If there is no legal aid available for a particular legal problem, the bots will point you to resources on finding a private attorney. Private attorneys do charge fees for their services.
A: As an online website, everyone can use COVID HELP and explore the legal resource available for a legal problem. But if you need an attorney, at the point of being referred to legal aid resources, your income level might limit the legal aid that is available to you.
A: To use COVID HELP you will be asked your zip code (to help us get you to the right legal aid in your area), as well as basic easy questions about your legal problem. You will not be asked by COVID HELP to create an account with us, nor give any identifying information. COVID HELP is completely confidential.
A: Since the pandemic began in March 2020, there have been some efforts to protect those who have lost their income: federal stimulus checks, eviction moratoriums and limits on debt collection. But these efforts are or will be ending soon, and a wave of evictions, foreclosures, and debt lawsuits are coming. Because of the large number of people in Illinois who will be dealing with these issues, the Illinois legal aid community wanted to provide one place on the internet where you could get accurate, reliable information on these COVID related legal problems, curated for you by legal aid attorneys.
A: COVID HELP was created by a consortium of legal aid programs throughout Illinois, including CARPLS Legal Aid, Illinois Legal Aid Online, Legal Aid Chicago, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance, Prairie State Legal Services, Westside Justice Center, and others. Based on our experience working with thousands of clients since the pandemic began, we have learned the most common concerns people have, and have created this online resource to help. The COVID HELP website is maintained by CARPLS Legal Aid, the Illinois not for profit legal aid organization that has run Cook County’s legal aid hotline for the past 27 years: www.carpls.org .
A: COVID HELP was funded through a generous grant of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois: www.ltf.org.
A: Visit CARPLS Legal Aid, www.carpls.org, which manages the COVID HELP website and bots.