Last Updated on June 4, 2023 by Walton and Tipton Township Public Library
WALTON – Legal advice isn’t cheap.
But the Indiana Bar Foundation is working to change that fact. Since unveiling its solution in November 2022, the organization has been on a mission to provide a way to offer free and low-cost legal services.
Thanks to a partnership between the Foundation and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, that goal has become a reality in the form of Legal Help Kiosks. The kiosks are aimed at providing Hoosiers with access to legal databases, documents, and assistance.
Cass County recently received its Legal Help Kiosk, and it is now housed at the Walton & Tipton Township Public Library, 110 N. Main St.
The kiosk, which currently features self-help forms for housing legal issues such as evictions, provides users with a computer, scanner, and printer for internet searches, form downloads, and legal case searches. Users also “can enter their zip code or select their county from a drop-down list to get a listing of free legal aid organizations in their area and free clinics they can attend to meet with an attorney either virtually or in person,” said Abbie Bush, Director of Civil Legal Assistance Programs with the Foundation. “Kiosk users can also find self-help court forms, such as the eviction sealing form, that can be filled out and printed directly from the kiosk. Hoosiers with questions about eviction or other housing legal issues can also use the kiosks to connect with a legal navigator through the kiosk chat feature.”
Users also will have access to instructional videos and a statewide calendar of free legal advice clinics.
“The primary goal of the kiosks is to make the resources available on IndianaLegalHelp.org easily accessible to Hoosiers,” said Bush, adding that “IndianaLegalHelp.org directs people to free legal help, provides self-help forms and resources, and offers Hoosiers the chance to reach out to legal navigators who can help with their housing legal issues and questions.”
The Foundation and Authority are working to place approximately 120 kiosks throughout Indiana’s 92 counties with each county having at least one setup. The ultimate goal is to place the kiosks in the county seats. However, there were issues that arose in Logansport with several sites choosing not to host the kiosk, which is why the Walton Library stepped up to the plate.
“We saw this as an opportunity to help our community,” said Kristi Hileman, director of the Walton Library. “We have the perfect location for the kiosk, which is with our patron computers on the main floor, and it’s in an area that is handicapped-accessible.”
“Kiosk users do not have to be patrons of our library,” Hileman continued. “It is available to anyone who resides in Indiana, but especially Cass County.”
The kiosk is open to the public during regular library hours, said Hileman, explaining that those hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The library is closed Sunday and Monday. It also will be closed Saturday, May 27, in honor of Memorial Day weekend.
Later this year, the Legal Help Kiosks will feature more civil legal topics. Right now, “users who reach out to a legal navigator through the chat feature can text or email their housing legal questions,” said Bush. But later this year, “anyone on the IndianaLegalHelp.org website, including kiosk users, will be able to have live conversations with legal navigators through the chat feature or over the phone,” she added.
“We know many people around our state don’t have reliable internet or other technology resources such as printers and scanners. Kiosks placed in community spaces such as courts and libraries help bridge the digital divide and provide immediate access to free and reliable legal resources available on IndianaLegalHelp.org,” Bush said.
The kiosk opportunity is an effort to increase housing stability legal services using federal funds made available through the Emergency Rental Assistance 2 Program (ERA2).
“We are grateful to the organizations around the state that are partnering with us to make this valuable resource available in their community,” said Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Dunlap. “Through IndianaLegalHelp.org and a network of statewide partners engaged in assisting Hoosiers facing housing-related civil legal issues, the Foundation is uniquely positioned to expand services statewide and connect more Hoosiers with legal services.”
For more information, please call the Walton Library at (574) 626-2234 or visit IndianaLegalHelp.org.
SOURCE: News release from Walton & Tipton Township Public Library