Free legal clinics are coming to North Port for low-income residents
A partnership between Goodwill Manasota and Gulfcoast Legal Services will bring free legal clinics to North Port for low-income South County residents.
Staff attorney James Clegg started at Gulfcoast in 2018, the same year the nonprofit partnered with Goodwill Manasota to offer legal clinics at one of Goodwill’s Bradenton stores. As a housing lawyer, Clegg is able to provide advice to people facing eviction.
“I will always speak to everyone who comes in,” Clegg said. “[But] I mostly focus on housing…and evictions are such a big deal right now.
The expansion from Bradenton to North Port took four years. After a hiatus from clinics due to the pandemic, Clegg noticed residents of North Port often walked an hour to Bradenton for legal advice.
“I was like, ‘You got a location in North Port, let’s just do something there,'” Clegg said. “And it finally got to the point where we were able to start doing that.”
In addition to housing advice, Gulfcoast Legal Services offers advice on credit debt, immigration services and family law.
Deshane Collins, a good partner coach at the North Port Goodwill location, located at 14879 Tamiami Trail, is encouraged by the new clinics, which began last week and will take place on the third Thursday of each month, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. .
“What impresses me most about the program is that it has enabled our team members, who would likely avoid legal services or legal advice, to have someone here they can come to. , engage and talk, at no cost,” Collins said.
In Collins’ view, the program is particularly needed in the context of the nationwide deportation crisis. Rent has risen dramatically in Sarasota and Manatee countieswhich creates major barriers for low-income people.
“It doesn’t matter where you go, I mean the rent for a bedroom, a bathroom is $1,100, $1,300, where we have team members trying to support a family working $12.50,” Collins said.
For appointments at the North Port location, call Deshane at 941-355-2721, ext. 515. For appointments at the Bradenton location, call Margo at 941-355-2721, ext. 190. Visits without an appointment are permitted, but appointments are strongly recommended.