Legal Services Corporation Awards $19.8M to Support Legal Aid Response to Natural Disasters
Director of Communications and Media Relations
WASHINGTON—The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that it is awarding $19.8 million to 14 legal aid organizations to support the delivery of legal services to low-income people impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods and severe storms that occurred in 2022. Over 4.75 million people in the affected areas qualified for legal aid before disaster struck.
LSC, the largest funder of civil legal aid in the United States, received $20 million of the $38.2 billion in emergency supplemental funding included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 passed by Congress to support widespread natural disaster response.
After extreme weather events, victims often require immediate legal assistance to file for FEMA and insurance benefits, deal with landlord/tenant issues, access unemployment, or apply for replacements of important documents needed for education and medical benefits. Legal issues caused by disasters can persist for several years afterwards. Cases involving FEMA appeals, bankruptcy, public housing and domestic violence can emerge, and disaster victims are vulnerable to predatory scams and fraud.
Grant recipients will use this funding to increase the range and quality of legal services available to disaster survivors. Some organizations plan to hire additional staff to increase their caseload capacity, while others will expand their outreach efforts, closing the gap between available services and disaster survivors who need them most. Many of the projects are leveraging partnerships and collaborations to spread knowledge about best practices, increase efficiency and share resources. Organizations in Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa are partnering to develop resources and virtual training sessions for recipients of LSC disaster funding who are less familiar with disaster work.
“Disaster response involves so much more than physical repairs, as millions of Americans find out each year when their home or family is impacted by one of these devastating events,” said LSC President Ron Flagg. “Legal aid providers are integral in helping low-income families access vital services and resources that set them on the path to recovery.”
Members of Congress commended the legal aid organizations in their states or districts on the grants and their vital disaster relief work.
“The impacts of Typhoon Merbok left many of our communities with significant damage—and far too many Alaskan families facing challenges regarding their finances, insurance claims, housing, and more. This grant from the Legal Services Corporation is good news for many disaster survivors in Alaska—this funding will provide them with legal support while they continue recovering from the damaging impacts of Typhoon Merbok,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.
“In the midst of recovering from last year's devastating wildfire season and its aftermath, the last thing New Mexico families need are legal headaches. This funding to the New Mexico Legal Aid will provide welcome and needed free legal assistance to families as they continue to rebuild,” said Senator Martin Heinrich. “I will also continue pushing to make sure those recovering from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire receive the full benefit of the federal support our delegation fought to secure – and urge New Mexicans to continue working with the FEMA Claims Office early and often."
“The tornadoes and severe storms and flooding from last year deeply affected many lives across our state,” said Representative Tom Cole (OK-4). “As many are still trying to recover from the destruction, I am delighted that the Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Indian Legal Services will receive these substantial grants to help Oklahomans and our state’s Native communities get back on their feet. These worthwhile investments will certainly bring some good back to Oklahoma.”
“Bay Area Legal Services helps Floridians find relief and pathways to justice including in the aftermath of disastrous storms like Hurricane Ian and the struggles to recover,” said Representative Kathy Castor (FL-14). “This vital support will not only bolster their work but help Floridians access important legal services to repair their livelihoods and recover insurance and housing.”
See below for a full list of organizations receiving disaster grants. Three organizations are receiving an additional grant to cover costs previously incurred in responding to disasters.
Alaska Legal Services Corporation
Project Grant: $4,726,333
Bay Area Legal Services
Project Grant: $1,195,404
Community Legal Services of Mid Florida
Incurred Cost Grant: $252,212
Project Grant: $1,019,294
Florida Rural Legal Services
Project Grant: $2,494,987
Legal Services of North Florida
Project Grant: $1,409,881
Iowa Legal Aid
Project Grant: $1,469,638
Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky
Incurred Cost Grant: $144,502
Project Grant: $1,345,226
Montana Legal Services Association
Project Grant: $473,921
Legal Aid of Nebraska
Project Grant: $497,564
New Mexico Legal Aid
Project Grant: $1,912,440
Legal Services of North Dakota
Project Grant: $785,257
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
Incurred Cost Grant: $42,391
Project Grant: $527,051
West Tennessee Legal Services
Project Grant: $849,009
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
Project Grant: $678,606