June 30, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC -- The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved a $440 million Fiscal Year 2011 budget for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) on June 29.
The funding increase was announced by Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, and represents a nearly 5 percent increase in the LSC budget. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) is the Subcommittee's ranking member.
"LSC is enormously grateful for the strong support of Chairman Mollohan, Ranking Member Wolf and all Subcommittee members. The ranks of low-income Americans are growing and LSC-funded programs report that requests for legal assistance are increasing. This new funding approved by the Subcommittee will help legal aid programs to better serve the nation's poor," LSC President Victor M. Fortuno said.
In February, President Fortuno testified before the Subcommittee, noting that requests by low-income Americans for help with foreclosure and unemployment problems were increasing. Fifty-four million Americans, including 18.5 million children, are eligible for civil legal assistance. The weak economy has placed a great strain on the resources that support legal aid programs, with some non-federal funding for legal aid in decline, raising concerns about the ability of legal aid programs to provide increased services this year and next year.
The Subcommittee bill continues existing restrictions on the use of funds, but lifts the restriction on the ability of LSC-funded programs to consolidate related client cases into class-action suits. Chairman Mollohan and Reps. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) urged the Subcommittee to permit class actions. "Lifting this restriction will allow grantees to more efficiently address systemic issues such as predatory lending or wrongful eviction," Chairman Mollohan said in a statement.
LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal aid in the nation, and currently funds 136 independent nonprofit legal aid programs across the country. Established in 1974, LSC operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to promote equal access to justice and to provide for high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
The annual LSC budget includes basic field grants that provide for the delivery of civil legal assistance, technology grants, an education loan repayment program for the recruitment and retention of lawyers, and grants oversight to ensure compliance and accountability by legal aid programs.