PACIFIC COUNTY - Mobile home park tenants in Pacific County who have problems with a landlord and have looked for help will tell the same story: There really aren't any resources, according to Joan Kleinberg, director of Northwest Justice Project's CLEAR, which stands for Coordinated Legal Education, Advice and Referral system.
CLEAR is an innovative statewide toll-free hotline for low-income people and seniors 60-and-over to obtain free legal assistance with civil legal problems, and is one of the very few resources for Pacific County mobile home park tenants.
"Pacific County is a really tough area for us to find representation," said Kleinberg. "So, it's correct that there are unfortunately few resources available there."
CLEAR is for many people, such as mobile home park tenants, the starting place to find out what their rights are and how to assert them.
In some cases where clients need more than just advice, what CLEAR tries to do is refer them to a local legal services provider.
"But these legal service providers tend to be in the more populous counties," said Kleinberg. "There is not such a program in Pacific County."
According to Kleinberg, Pacific County is served, to some extent, by Columbia Legal Services, which has an office in Olympia. But Columbia has been hit by budget cuts over the last several years and has had a hiring freeze for quite a while. So the program is down, just through attrition, said Kleinberg, who added that Columbia has significantly fewer attorneys than in 1999, which in turn impairs its ability to take new cases.
Even though legal resources for Pacific County are limited, Kleinberg said she still urges any mobile home park tenants who are experiencing problems with a landlord or management to call the CLEAR hotline.
CLEAR is federally funded, but a model which only exists in 10 states, including Washington. Some hotlines in other states exist on a regional basis, but the number is growing, according to Kleinberg.
CLEAR's toll free number for legal advice for low-income residents is (888) 201-1014. There is a separate number for seniors 60-and-over: (888) 387-7111. The hotlines are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They are also available on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.