January 29, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC -- The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today asked Congress to provide $516.5 million in Fiscal Year 2011 funding, with more than 95 percent of the budget request going to fund 136 nonprofit legal aid programs across the nation that provide civil legal assistance to the nation's poor.
The 2008 recession and the rise in unemployment during 2009 created new stresses for legal aid programs, which are able to serve only half of those seeking help with pressing civil legal problems. The Corporation's 2009 Justice Gap Report showed that in one category -- foreclosures -- LSC programs are turning away two people for every client served.
Many legal aid programs are confronting a downturn in non-federal funding at a time when they report increasing requests for help by low-income Americans. In particular, Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) -- a major source of funding for legal aid programs -- has declined significantly because of the drop in short-term interest rates.
In addition to providing $484.9 million for the provision of civil legal assistance, the Corporation's Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request proposes $6.8 million for technology grants that improve access to legal assistance and self-help guides for the poor, $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 LSC Office of Inspector General.
The 2009 Justice Gap Report found that for every client served by LSC programs, another person who seeks help is turned away due to a lack of program resources. The conclusion reaffirmed the findings of the original report on the justice gap published by LSC in 2005.
LSC is the single-largest funder of civil legal assistance for the poor in the nation. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as a private, nonprofit organization to promote equal access to justice and to ensure the provision of high-quality legal assistance to low-income Americans.