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Impact of President’s Proposed Budget on Cleveland Legal Aid

Posted March 17, 2017
12:12 pm

The Trump administration's proposed budget for 2018, released on Thursday, eliminates funding for the Legal Services Corporation.  The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) provides 28% of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s budget.  The LSC is among 19 agencies 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.

Colleen M. Cotter, Esq., Executive Director of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland states “Access to justice is a founding principle of our republic.” And she believes “Justice for all is a shared idea we all pledge allegiance to and ensuring fairness in the justice system is a fundamental American value.”

The investment of the Legal Services Corporation in Cleveland’s Legal Aid leverages an additional $6 million of private funds and other grants to promote civil justice through Legal Aid’s budget.  Cleveland Legal Aid - now 112 years old - secures shelter, ensures health and safety, and increases economic security for low-income people in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties.  Last year, Cleveland’s Legal Aid program impacted 18,000 people through more than 7500 cases.  In 2015 alone, Cleveland Legal Aid secured nearly $16 million for low-income clients by increasing assets and income and reducing debt.

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

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