LSC Awards More Than $14 Million in Disaster Relief Grants to Legal Aid Organizations
WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that it is awarding 12 disaster relief grants totaling $14,250,000 to legal aid organizations in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, Micronesia, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. The bill provides $19.1 billion in supplemental disaster funds to address damage caused by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters that occurred from 2017-2019. LSC received $15 million to support the delivery of legal services to individuals affected by disasters.
The grants will fund projects that marshal additional legal aid lawyers to assist disaster providers, mobilize pro bono attorneys, and integrate legal aid into other disaster services.
“Legal services providers are a critical component of comprehensive disaster relief for survivors facing wrongful evictions, denials of insurance claims and benefits, and consumer scams,” explained LSC President James J. Sandman. “We are grateful to Congress for providing funds to ensure that low-income disaster survivors get the help they need in the aftermath of a disaster.”
The funded projects are:
Alaska Legal Services Corporation
Alaska Legal Services Corporation will receive $279,252 to focus on housing issues facing renters and homeowners in the region affected by the 2018 earthquake. The organization will help low-income Alaskans avoid homelessness and home repair fraud, address landlord/tenant issues, and resolve other legal issues arising from the earthquake.
Center for Arkansas Legal Services
The Center for Arkansas Legal Services will receive $500,000 to provide direct representation to survivors of the floods that affected Arkansas, Conway, Crawford, Desha, Faulkner, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Sebastian, and Yell counties. It will develop a dedicated disaster relief hotline, provide in-person survivor and community outreach, and expand pro bono recruitment for disaster-related legal cases.
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles will receive $450,000 to help low-income survivors recover from the Woolsey Fire by providing legal assistance and conducting outreach events in affected communities. The organization will partner with disaster agencies and other LSC-funded legal services organizations in California.
Legal Services of North Florida
Legal Services of North Florida will receive $3,000,000 to provide direct legal representation to survivors of Hurricane Michael by increasing its disaster legal services staff and expanding its outreach to disaster-affected areas. It will also enhance its pro bono recruitment efforts to increase access to services.
Iowa Legal Aid
Iowa Legal Aid will receive $1,000,000 to help low-income survivors of the 2019 floods with legal issues related to foreclosures, contractor scams, real estate land contracts, quiet title, eviction, rental repairs, rental contracts, flood insurance, FEMA denials, and bankruptcy. The organization will train partners in the disaster response community to identify legal problems and refer disaster survivors to Iowa Legal Aid for assistance. It will also recruit and train volunteer attorneys to respond to disasters to increase its capacity to assist survivors.
Micronesian Legal Services, Inc.
Micronesian Legal Services, Inc. will receive $1,200,000 to create a team to help low-income survivors of Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkhut by providing direct legal services, conducting community education, and collaborating with other disaster-services partners. The organization will also implement technology enhancements to better serve the affected population.
Legal Aid of Nebraska
Legal Aid of Nebraska will receive $1,250,000 to expand its existing Disaster Relief Project. The organization will provide direct legal services to individuals throughout the state affected by the 2019 floods and bomb cyclone blizzard.
Legal Aid of North Carolina
Legal Aid of North Carolina will receive $4,836,024 to create three legal teams in Pembroke, Rocky Mount, and Greenville to serve the regions of the state that are most impacted by Hurricane Florence. The teams will provide direct legal services to survivors, conduct outreach clinics, and coordinate with other disaster-response partners.
Legal Aid of Western Ohio
Legal Aid of Western Ohio will receive $350,000 to develop a Tornado Recovery Project to identify and contact all survivors potentially eligible for legal aid living in the affected regions of western Ohio. The project will provide information on legal rights and available assistance, conduct client intake, offer comprehensive legal help, and work with affected communities to help rebuild housing and restore stability.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma will receive $650,000 to conduct targeted outreach to counties affected in 2019 by severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding. The organization will provide direct legal services to survivors and plans to expand assistance from pro bono lawyers by establishing remote connectivity at four rural sites to allow urban attorneys to assist rural clients. Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma will also establish a virtual law office for urban attorneys to meet online with rural clients.
Oklahoma Indian Legal Services
Oklahoma Indian Legal Services will receive $234,724 to focus on tribal outreach and providing direct legal services to individuals affected in 2019 by severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding. The organization will hire a new attorney to work with tribal members who require assistance with updated titles that will enable them to apply for disaster assistance from federal, state, and tribal governments.
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid will receive $500,000 to provide direct legal assistance to disaster survivors in southeast Texas affected by the severe storms and flooding in 2019. The organization will recruit and train pro bono attorneys to better meet survivors’ legal needs. It will also work with community organizations and local disaster-relief agencies to provide legal information at meetings and through media outlets.
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.