OCTOBER 2019
The latest news and updates
New Housing Project
Starting October 1st we will be offering free legal services related to housing matters such as evictions, maintenance, utility shut offs, and security deposits. For more information contact us at (407) 834-1660 or email administrator@scbalas.com. See flyer here.
Welcome New Staff Attorney
Joanne Desile, Esq.
Recently, SCBALAS received a new addition to our team, staff Attorney Joanne Desile. She will be helping us provide legal assistance to in-need residents of Seminole County.
Attorney Desile is a talented individual who received her B.S. in Paralegal Studies from Everest University in 2012 and received her J.D. from Florida A&M University College of Law in 2017. We are extremely excited to have her join us and wish her success.
Minor Home Repair Program
Written by Maria Machado
The Minor Home Repair Program has been established to provide funds, in the form of grants, to members of the county that need repairs and/or alterations to their homes thus immediately affecting the livability of their home.
         The five (5) services that will be provided are roofing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC (heating and cooling systems), and accessibility/barrier removal. These services will be provided to residents that meet the criteria which, at the very minimum, all the following must be met:
1.    Applicant must be the unit’s owner by proof of a deed in their name;
2.    Home must be located within Seminole County;
3.    Occupying household must be at or bellow 80% of the median income level (to view income levels, click here );
4.    All mortgages, taxes, and special assessments on the home must be current and paid; and
5.    Home must have homeowner’s insurance or notification from insurance company of inability to insure due to state of home (insurance must be attained prior to project completion).
How to Apply:
         Applications are available on the Seminole County Community Development Office or by clicking here . Applications can be submitted at the same office Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The program works on eligibility and a first-come-first-served basis and it will be open to residents while funding is available.
 
Amnesty for Chronic Scofflaws
Written by Maria Machado
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            The Amnesty for Chronic Scofflaws program was implemented to target chronic code-enforcement scofflaws. The idea behind the program is to eliminate liens for property owners who comply with county rules and regulations.
         The new amnesty program is to be put into action starting January 1, 2020 and run all the way to July 1, 2020. The aim of the program is to reduce the lien by 90% if the “delinquent property” owner complies fully with any outstanding code violations. After this step has been completed correctly, the owner with the outstanding lien is eligible to apply for the amnesty. If approved, the property owner would be set up to pay for the remaining 10% of the lien amount, up to $1,000, and an additional $250 administrative few within 30 days. Taking into consideration financial difficulty being experienced by some residents, the county commissioners have also agreed to set up a payment plan for those needy residents as a way to be sensitive towards their financial hardships.
         The county will be sending out mail notices to property owners with liens and informing them of the amnesty program and how to apply. 
Cyber-Crime Hotline Launches in Seminole, Orange and Osceola Counties
Written by Maria Machado
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     Florida was ranked as the most vulnerable state in country for cyber hygiene by the Ponemon Institute, whose specialization is research on data protection.
         The goal of this initiative is to provide residents with a place they can turn to when they want to report an issue such as cyber stalking, identity theft, IRS impostors as well as other cyber-crimes. The agency received a $1.4 million grant from the U.S Department of Justice to create a Cyber-Crime Victim Support Initiative, the resources will be particularly useful to more at-risk individuals such as elderly residents, who might be less familiar with internet scams and phishing attempts.
         Another goal of this program is to free up some 9-1-1 emergency lines. More often than not, cyber victims who are not in any immediate danger, will call one these emergency lines becuase they don’t know where else to turn to, therefore the 2-1-1 hotline will allow those none-emergency people to get the correct help while allowing those who are, in fact, having an emergency to get the help they need. This hotline will also help with getting callers in contact with services they might need. For example, elderly residents who are isolated/lonely can learn about support groups that might help callers who are depressed or struggling with their finances and can get referrals to mental health counseling or rental assistance programs.
         Under this program, trained specialists will know what advice to given to any given caller depending on what their situation is, and they will be able to tell the victims where to file a report and, if the victim chooses, help them with said filing. These specialists will also be trained to help victims get in contact with resources that may be able to recover their funds, prevent further loss or rebuild credit, as well as helping them prevent future attacks. If the cyber-crime involves child pornography, human trafficking or a threat to life, these specialists will connect the callers with law-enforcement immediately.
         Hotline services can be reached by calling 2-1-1, texting 898-211 or by chatting through the website provided here.
Florida Attorney General Launches Website to Combat the Opioid Crisis
Written by Maria Machado
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, joined by Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, launched the website “Dose of Reality Florida” in the downtown area of Orlando on Friday, September 20 th . What she referred to as the “foundation of information” is aimed at preventing prescription painkiller abuse, in our state, by providing resources that include treatment help for people who are already addicted. AG Moody stated that “this is the most pressing health crisis facing our nation today” which is why she wanted to be “aggressive, strategic and coordinated” since doing this was a “very important step.”
The website is described as a “one-stop shop” for people seeking information about anything related to opioids including: addiction, prevention, treatment and support. It’s worth noting that most of these resources are in both English and Spanish to reach the biggest amount of people possible in hopes to “break the cycle of addiction and dependency.”  
For more information click here
New Application Process for Housing and Financial Assistance
Written by Maria Machado
As of October 1, 2019 applications will be accepted through appointment or on-line. Said appointments will be available on Monday and Thursday mornings from 8:30 am to 11:30 am, as well as Wednesday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

To schedule an appointment on or after October 1 st , please call 407-665-2300.

Clic k here for the online application o nline application.

For more information click here .
We will be hosting our “The Art of Law” fundraiser on December 19th at 11:30 am. “The Art of Law” focuses on the beauty of the legal profession and its power to improve the lives of others in our community. Many in our community are hurting and need our legal help.  In Seminole County, over 50% of enrolled children in public school are on free or reduced lunch. 69% of people frequent food banks are forced to choose between buying food or paying bills. Approximately 12% of Seminole County residents live under the poverty line.

Please consider becoming a sponsor of our event or donating an item for sale at our auction. To view our event page and sponsorship levels, please click here . All funds raised at the event supports our mission to provide free quality legal services to vulnerable residents of Seminole County to improve their quality of life and enhance their self-sufficiency and safety.” Last year, we offered free legal services to more than 1,028 impoverished families, including 1,397 children and obtained $362,256.53 in court-ordered support for low-income families in Seminole County.
Evelyn Cloninger, Esq.
Dear Friends,

We were saddened to hear that Evelyn Watts Cloninger, Esq. passed away in early September. As one of only three women that attended Stetson Law in 1976, Evelyn Watts Cloninger also went on to be the first ever attorney to open doors in Oviedo, FL; she was a founding partner of Cloninger & Files. Evelyn Watts Cloninger was an active member in her community as well as a strong woman-leader in her many fields of expertise. She was also an annual supporter and contributor to our organization. We would like to express our deepest sympathies and extend our condolences to Attorney Cloninger’s family, our thoughts are with them during this time.
New Administrative Orders

In Re: Appointment of General Magistrate and Support Enforcement Hearing Officer

In Re: Mediation – Family Law Mediation Program

In Re: Administrative Judges

Upcoming Events
9:00 am-1:00 pm at the Seminole County Health Department, 400 West Airport Blvd., Sanford, FL 32773.
Starting October 1st we will be offering free legal services related to housing matters such as evictions, maintenance, utility shut offs, and security deposits.

1 - 4 PM at the Seminole County Public Library, 215 N Oxford Rd. Casselberry, FL

10 AM - 12 PM at the Sanford Job Connection Center,
4516 W State Rd. 46 Sanford, FL
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL FREE 1-800-435-7352, WITHIN THE STATE OR ONLINE AT WWW.FRESHFROMFLORIDA.COM. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. OUR REGISTRATION NUMBER IS 1944.