02/12/2018: Impact of President’s Proposed FY19 Budget on Northeast Ohio

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The Trump administration’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2019, released on February 12, 2018, eliminates funding for the Legal Services Corporation. The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) provides 25% of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s budget. The LSC is among 22 agencies and 66 programs named for total elimination of funding.

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland is prohibited from lobbying and hence cannot participate in the public debate over the President’s budget. But, Northeast Ohio can be proud that there is strong, bipartisan support for civil legal aid from the courts, the business community, faith leaders and the legal community. Civil legal aid has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support for a reason: Americans believe in justice for all, not just for those who can afford it.

LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the nation. Established in 1974 by President Richard Nixon, LSC distributes funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs with more than 800 offices across the United States.  LSC assures fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money you have. It provides access to legal help for people to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.

The investment of the Legal Services Corporation in Cleveland’s Legal Aid leverages an additional $7 million of private funds, other grants and significant in-kind (pro bono) support to promote civil justice through Legal Aid’s budget. Since 1905, Legal Aid has been a vital safety net for Northeast Ohio families who cannot afford to hire a lawyer on their own.  Legal Aid staff and volunteer attorneys keep families together by preventing foreclosures and evictions, creating pathways to education and employment, and securing safety from domestic violence. Last year, Cleveland’s Legal Aid program impacted more than 18,000 people through nearly 8,000 cases throughout five counties in Northeast Ohio. This work resulted in increasing assets and annual income and reducing debt by $14.2 million for its clients.

Colleen M. Cotter, Esq., Executive Director of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland states, “For more than a century, we’ve been building a community in pursuit of justice. A community to extend our reach, ensuring we are there when and where our clients need us.”

Media and other inquires can be directed to Melanie Shakarian, Esq. – Legal Aid’s Director of Development & Communications: 216-215-0074 (cell), melanie.shakarian@lasclev.org, or private message via Twitter @LegalAidCLE.

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