April 5, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC—The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today asked the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to provide $516.5 million in Fiscal Year 2012 funding, with 94 percent of the budget request going to fund 136 nonprofit legal aid programs that provide civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
“Federal funding for civil legal aid is critically important,” LSC President Jim Sandman said. “LSC is at the center of the nation’s access to justice efforts, and maintaining the progress we have made is linked directly to our funding.”
Mr. Sandman and Robert J. Grey, Jr., an LSC Board member, testified before the Subcommittee. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is the Subcommittee Chairman; Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) is the ranking member.
Last year, LSC-funded programs closed nearly 1 million cases, and their caseload reflected the impact of the recession and slow economic recovery. Foreclosure cases increased by 20 percent, unemployment cases rose by 10 percent and domestic violence cases grew by 5 percent. LSC-funded programs also closed more cases involving landlord-tenant disputes, bankruptcy and consumer-related matters.
Many LSC programs are stretched thin, in part because their non-federal funding sources have been essentially flat or declining in recent years. Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts has declined from 12.7 percent of total funding in 2008 to 7 percent in 2010. State and local grants and United Way contributions also have declined.
“These are hard times for low-income Americans,” LSC President Sandman said. “Requests for assistance are increasing, and the poverty population is growing.”
In addition to providing $484.9 million for grants to provide civil legal assistance, the Corporation’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request proposes $6.8 million for technology grants that improve access to legal assistance and self-help guides; $1 million for student loan repayment assistance to legal aid lawyers; $19.5 million for management and grants oversight, and $4.35 million for the Office of Inspector General.
In its Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal, the White House requested $450 million for LSC, with $420 million going to basic field grants for the delivery of civil legal assistance.
LSC is the nation’s single-largest funder of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to provide for equal access to justice and to ensure the provision of high-quality legal assistance to low-income Americans.