For Immediate Release
Washington, DC—The White House today recommended $402 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Fiscal Year 2013, an increase of $54 million from current funding.
About 94 percent of the White House request—$376.8 million—would provide grants to nonprofit legal aid programs to deliver civil legal assistance to low-income Americans who request help to avert foreclosures, escape domestic violence, deal with consumer fraud and appeal denial of veterans’ benefits, as well as other critical matters.
“We must restore and ultimately increase funding for civil legal services, especially to help low-income Americans who are seeking safety, subsistence and family stability,” LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi said. “I want to thank President Obama for proposing this funding restoration, and I look forward to working with the Congress on expanding access to justice across the nation.”
LSC funding was approximately $404 million in Fiscal Year 2011 before falling to $348 million in Fiscal Year 2012. The drop in LSC funding and a decline in other important funding sources, such as state grants and Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, have led to reductions in attorneys, paralegals and support staff at LSC-funded programs. Eighteen percent of the programs have closed offices or are projecting office closures this year. Nationwide for 2012, LSC estimates 81,000 fewer low-income Americans will receive assistance from the programs it funds, based on staffing projections from LSC-funded programs.
As an independent nonprofit corporation, LSC also sent its own budget request to the Congress today, seeking $470 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2013. The $470 million request, adopted by the LSC Board of Directors on September 19, 2011, would provide $440.3 million in field grants for the delivery of civil legal assistance. The Board considered a number of factors in making its recommendation, including the growing need for civil legal assistance and the decline in non-LSC resources available to legal aid programs.
“I can think of no more important objective of our legal system than to provide meaningful access to justice,” LSC President James J. Sandman said. “Adequate funding for legal services is critical—increasing numbers of Americans are becoming eligible for civil legal assistance at the same time that legal aid programs are confronting diminished resources and being forced to reduce their services. We are not only urging Congress to restore LSC funding, we are working to enlist pro bono volunteers and expand the use of technology to serve clients.”
In addition to providing $376.8 million for basic field grants, the White House Fiscal Year 2013 budget request proposes $3 million for Technology Initiative Grants; $1 million for student loan repayment assistance to help legal aid programs recruit and retain lawyers; $17 million for management and grants oversight, and $4.2 million for the LSC Office of Inspector General.
Established in 1974, LSC promotes equal access to justice and ensures the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families. LSC-funded programs provide legal services to persons at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline ($13,963 for an individual and $28,813 for a family of four). About 60 million Americans qualify for civil legal assistance from LSC-funded programs.
(See Appendix, Other Independent Agencies)