The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation in Cleveland has committed $1 million to support the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s work to secure housing and economic stability for those impacted by COVID-19.

The gift will affect thousands of people across Northeast Ohio who benefit from Legal Aid’s representation, outreach and advocacy work, which is provided at no cost to low-income clients partly due to philanthropic support from foundations such as Mandel, according to a news release.

“We believe this investment will go far to help those in need gain stability and hope during this difficult time,” Stephen H. Hoffman, Mandel Foundation chairman, said in the release. “Communities of low-income people and communities of color have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and the pandemic’s economic impact. Legal Aid’s clients will experience an increased need in legal assistance to protect shelter, safety and economic security.”

Mandel Foundation President and CEO Jehuda Reinharz said in the release, “Legal Aid’s work perfectly aligns with the mission of the Mandel Foundation: to improve the lives of our community members and create more just, inclusive, compassionate and democratic societies.”

Legal Aid impacted 16,710 people through 7,297 civil legal cases in 2019. The society has recently seen a spike in requests for housing assistance and employment/unemployment issues, the release said.

Legal Aid also established a new worker information line, among other things, to help guide workers and the recently unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 shed a light on existing inequities in our society – then proceeded to exacerbate those issues,” Legal Aid Executive Director Colleen Cotter said in the release. “We responded to the crisis with new and innovative service models, expanded programs and strategic partnerships to ensure we could help as many people as possible. With Mandel Foundation support, Legal Aid will continue to make our community stronger by addressing the needs of its most vulnerable members and promoting justice for all.”

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