NYLAG STATEMENT IN OPPOSITION TO PROPOSED BUDGET ELIMINATING FUNDING FOR LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION

March 31, 2017

New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) joins legal services providers in New York City, New York State, and across the country in denouncing the White House’s proposed budget to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). While NYLAG does not receive LSC funding directly, NYLAG supports the numerous legal services organizations in New York City and State that do. NYLAG works closely with these organizations, and together we have woven a network of agencies that continue to try to meet the increasingly high demand for free and accessible legal services. A loss of this funding will decrease the already limited availability of these services and be a detriment to our communities.

Established by Congress in 1974 as a public nonprofit corporation, and enjoying decades of bipartisan support, LSC funds more than a hundred civil legal-aid programs throughout the country. LSC-funded organizations provide free civil legal services to people who desperately need an advocate to navigate the U.S. legal system including veterans, seniors, survivors of domestic violence, children in need of special education, families facing homelessness, and disaster survivors, among others. According to LSC’s 2015 Annual Report, nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population qualified for free civil legal aid in 2015. Numerous independent studies have shown that the benefits of providing free civil legal services definitively outweigh the costs. In New York, it has been estimated that the return on providing free civil legal services results in $5 in benefits for every $1 spent

According to LSC’s 2015 Annual Report, nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population qualified for free civil legal aid in 2015. Numerous independent studies have shown that the benefits of providing free civil legal services definitively outweigh the costs. In New York, it has been estimated that the return on providing free civil legal services results in $5 in benefits for every $1 spent by preventing events that are extremely costly for society at large, such as homelessness, domestic violence, and poor health. Cutting funding to this vital program also amounts to the denial of fairness and equal access to justice for the most vulnerable. These principles should apply to all people regardless of economic status. NYLAG joins its civil legal services and private bar partners in firmly opposing the proposed elimination of the LSC.