Civil legal services programs assist veterans returning from war, help domestic violence victims find refuge, defend families facing foreclosure or eviction, and much more. Now, these desperately needed services are on the chopping block, as the House has approved a $70 million cut — from $420 million to $350 million – in funding for the federal Legal Services Corporation, reducing grants to 136 local legal aid nonprofit programs by an average of 18 percent.
The cuts could not come at a worse time. The recession has pushed more families into poverty. Nearly 57 million Americans, including almost 20 million children, qualify for legal assistance. One in every two eligible clients who seeks assistance from a Legal Services Corporation-funded legal aid program is already turned away due to lack of resources. Other sources of funding for legal aid, such as the interests on lawyers trust accounts, or IOLTA, program have dried up.
We can’t afford to let more families fall through the cracks of our legal system. The Brennan Center for Justice is urging allies to take action: contact your senators and urge them to oppose any cuts for the Legal Services Corporation. For more information, please contact the Brennan Center.