Washington, DC—The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has awarded an emergency grant of $65,103 to Legal Services Law Line of Vermont to provide civil legal assistance to low-income persons affected by the widespread flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene in August, LSC President James J. Sandman announced today.
The emergency grant is the second made by LSC this year. Legal Services of Alabama received a disaster grant of $68,629 to assist victims of the April tornadoes that destroyed communities in that state.
“Civil legal assistance can be critical to victims of natural disasters who are rebuilding their lives. It is important that LSC-funded programs have the resources to respond to requests from low-income individuals and families in the aftermath of storms and disasters,” LSC President Sandman said. “Our hearts go out to the victims of these disasters.”
Law Line of Vermont, based in Burlington, will use the grant to hire an attorney for one year and to cover travel and other expenses involved in providing legal assistance to persons affected by flooding. In addition to assisting flood victims, the attorney will train and advise pro bono attorneys and work with local, state and federal agencies addressing the needs of flood victims. The attorney also will be available as a resource for Vermont’s Long Term Recovery Task Force.
Thomas F. Garrett, Executive Director of Legal Services Law Line, said federal estimates indicate that 40 percent of the individuals and families affected by the flooding were members of low-income households. “I am grateful for the LSC emergency grant. It is important that Law Line have sufficient staff to address the new cases it will receive because of the disaster,” Mr. Garrett said.
Legal Services Alabama, with headquarters in Montgomery, has used its grant to cover personnel costs involving the operation of a call center and to facilitate collaborations with other organizations in Alabama working on behalf of low-income disaster survivors.
James H. Fry, Executive Director of Legal Services Alabama, said the emergency grant “has provided assistance to numerous disaster victims, and this is a wonderful example of the public-private partnerships that support the work of legal aid programs. When the LSC grant was combined with our disaster grants from the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we were able to hire attorneys and paralegals to help tornado victims while also maintaining services to clients who came to our offices before the tornadoes ripped across the state.”
Following disasters, LSC-funded programs provide low-income Americans with legal aid on matters ranging from temporary housing, rent-gouging, evictions, disaster benefits, consumer fraud, and family issues that arise because of disaster-related stress.
Established by Congress in 1974, LSC is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that promotes equal access to justice and funds high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families. LSC awards grants to 136 independent nonprofit legal aid programs across the country. The programs provide legal services to persons at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline.