June 26, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC--This afternoon, as part of its FY 2008 funding bill, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved a $41.4 million or 12 percent increase for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), for a total of $390 million. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to act on the bill later this week. LSC is an independent, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1974 to promote equal access to justice and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, "The Legal Services Corporation is a critically important program that supports legal aid nationwide. These funds will directly help those who lack the means to defend themselves, including senior citizens and people with disabilities. Access to its services helps these individuals pursue justice in the areas of housing, unemployment, domestic violence, and other complicated legal concerns."
The LSC budget increase is, in part, recognition of LSC's groundbreaking report, Documenting the Justice Gap: The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans, which was completed in September 2005. The Justice Gap Report documents that nationwide, for every person helped by LSC-funded programs, another is turned away. Fifty percent of those eligible clients actually seeking help are turned away for one primary reason: lack of resources.
Frank B. Strickland of Atlanta, Georgia, Chairman of LSC's Board of Directors, said, "This is an extremely gratifying next step in what we hope will be a successful outcome this year. I want to thank Chairperson Mikulski and Senators Shelby and Harkin, as well as the entire subcommittee, for a funding increase that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of tens of thousands of low-income Americans in need of civil legal assistance."
The main source of funding for civil legal aid, LSC awards grants to independent, local programs--in 2007, 138 programs with more than 900 offices nationwide. Grants are awarded through a competitive process and are based on the number of people living in poverty in a given state or geographic service area.
LSC is governed by a bipartisan, 11-member Board of Directors appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Earlier this month, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved a $28 million increase for LSC for FY 2008.