LSC’s 2022 Budget Request Seeks to Narrow Justice Gap, Fund Services to Families Affected by COVID-19
WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is asking Congress for an appropriation of $1.018 billion in its 2022 FY budget request. This request responds to the surge in demand for civil legal services caused by COVID-19’s impact on low-income communities, in addition to the continuing lack of adequate resources to provide civil legal assistance to the millions of Americans eligible for LSC-funded services. The Biden Administration has requested $600 million for LSC in FY 2022—the largest request ever put forward by any administration.
“Low-income Americans face surges in unemployment, evictions, foreclosures, domestic violence, health care issues, and consumer scams,” said LSC President Ron Flagg. “Legal aid providers can make a life-impacting difference by assisting people through these crises – but they need additional resources to carry out their mission.”
More than 95% of LSC’s budget request would go toward funding legal aid organizations around the country. LSC’s request is comprised of two components. First, reducing the Justice Gap—the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs—by 60%. To meet this goal, LSC’s budget for Basic Field Grants would need to increase to $650 million.
A 2017 LSC report showed that 86% of the civil legal problems of low-income Americans received no or inadequate help. In 2019, LSC conducted an intake census to measure the demand for civil legal aid and the capacity of LSC-funded organizations to meet that need. It found that 42% of the legal problems presented received no service of any kind due to a lack of resources. LSC’s budget request would allow its grantees to provide some level of service to address 60% more civil legal problems than they served in 2019.
LSC’s request also includes an additional $325 million in Basic Field Grants to address pandemic-related legal services. As a result of COVID-19, LSC projects that the number of people seeking legal assistance will increase significantly over the next several years. LSC’s survey of LSC-funded legal services organizations found that its grantees were struggling with growing demand for their services. Ninety-four percent of the grantees surveyed said that they were seeing clients who were newly eligible for LSC-funded legal aid due to the pandemic.
These organizations need additional resources to assist vulnerable people facing increases in evictions, foreclosures, domestic violence and problems with unemployment insurance and consumer scams. Civil legal aid is critical to ensuring that federal policy responses aimed at pandemic relief for low-income Americans is carried out.
Read LSC’s budget request.