LSC Awards First Midwest Legal Disaster Coordination Grants

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced that Iowa Legal Aid and Legal Aid of Nebraska will receive grants from its new Midwest Legal Disaster Coordination Fund  to support projects that develop coordinated plans between disaster preparedness organizations and legal service providers in the Midwest.

These grants will help the legal aid organizations address the need for civil legal aid in the aftermath of natural and manmade disasters and integrate a legal component for low-income individuals into statewide disaster preparedness plans. "Disaster survivors can face years of legal repercussions and may need help replacing legal identification papers,  applying for disaster benefits , and dealing with insurance claim issues," said James J. Sandman, president of LSC.  "In addition, survivors often face a variety of legal issues involving their housing, from preventing unlawful evictions and foreclosures to combating contractor scams."

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The 2014 Midwest Legal/Disaster Coordination Fund grants will support the following projects:

Iowa Legal Aid - $367,700 (20 months) 

Using its extensive experience in disaster recovery, Iowa Legal Aid will develop mobile technology to help disaster survivors better reach legal aid programs after a disaster occurs. Iowa Legal Aid will partner with Pro Bono Net to adapt its mobile template for an application that provides disaster-related resources to clients and attorneys. In addition, Iowa Legal Aid will create a multi-component toolkit for use by other legal aid organizations across the country. The toolkit will help legal aid programs prepare in advance for the legal responses often needed after disasters and provide best practices for responding to a disaster, including assisting with long-term recovery. The project will help legal aid grantees cultivate relationships with their statewide disaster recovery community and develop training materials for legal and non-legal disaster responders.

Legal Aid of Nebraska - $400,000 (20 months) 

Legal Aid of Nebraska will create an interactive web portal and a statewide legal disaster response training program for attorneys and other stakeholders to better prepare Nebraskans to access free legal services when disaster strikes. Legal Aid of Nebraska will host disaster preparedness workshops throughout the state, and work closely with local pro bono attorneys to provide free onsite legal aid services to disaster victims in afflicted areas. Legal Aid of Nebraska will also leverage its experience with automated forms preparation and online guidance for people without legal representation to be replicated in other regions.

See more information about LSC’s Midwest Legal Disaster Coordination Project.

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.

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