June 12, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC--Last evening the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved a $28 million increase for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) as part of its FY 2008 funding bill. LSC is an independent, non-profit Corporation created by the Congress in 1974 to promote equal access to justice and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The 8 percent increase for the Corporation is the second consecutive annual increase and would represent a $50 million gain over two years.
The bill passed unanimously by voice vote and is expected to be acted on by the full House Appropriations Committee next week.
Chairman Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) said in his opening statement to the Subcommittee, "We have made positive changes with some of the smaller agencies in this bill. I'm proud to say we have added $28 million above the FY 07 level and $66 million over the President's request for the Legal Services Corporation."
This 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 actually seeking help are turned away for one primary reason: lack of resources.
Helaine M. Barnett, President of LSC, said, "I thank Chairman Mollohan, Congressman Frelinghuysen, and the entire Subcommittee for recognizing the crucial need for increased funding for civil legal aid in America, and for helping to provide more low-income Americans with access to justice."
The main source of funding for civil legal aid, LSC gives grants to independent, local programs--in 2007, 138 programs with more than 900 offices nationwide. Grants are awarded through a competitive process. The size of the grants are based on the number of people living in poverty in a given state or geographic service area.
The LSC has a bipartisan, 11-member Board of Directors--appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate.