Congressional Negotiators Back 8% Funding Increase for LSC

December 9, 2009


Washington, DC -- House and Senate negotiators have approved a consolidated appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010 that includes $420 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to promote equal access to justice and to provide for civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.

The vast majority of the funding -- $394.4 million -- will be distributed in grants to 137 independent nonprofit programs across the nation to help low-income individuals and families who are trying to avert foreclosure or eviction, trying to escape from domestic violence or who have a pressing civil legal problem that places their security and safety at risk.

Overall, the appropriations bill increases LSC funding by $30 million from the current level. It also lifts a restriction on the ability of LSC-funded programs to pursue the recovery of attorneys' fees when it is permitted or required under federal or state law.

In addition to providing grants for the provision of civil legal assistance, the appropriations bill provides $17 million for management and grants oversight, $3.4 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, and $4.2 million for the LSC Office of Inspector General.

The consolidated appropriations bill, which combines six annual appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began October 1, will go to the House and Senate for final approval and then to the president for his signature. An interim funding measure expires December 18.

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.

In September, LSC released its updated report on the justice gap in America, which 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 reaffirms the findings of the original report on the justice gap published by LSC in 2005.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.