Friday, September 02, 2011
Federal budget cuts reduce Legal Aid services, often a last resort for the rural poor
Legal Aid offices nationwide are facing more budget cuts and laying off employees, reducing services, and closing offices as demand for their services increases. The Great Recession has made 27 percent more Americans eligible for Legal Aid than in 2007, Elizabeth Crisp writes for USA Today. Legal Aid is often the last resort for poor people in rural areas, especially those where lawyers are not plentiful.
Legal Aid Service of Idaho has resorted to closing offices one day each month, requiring unpaid monthly furloughs and cutting several full-time employees to part-time, . By the end of the year, Legal Services of New Jersey plans to layoff 100 employees. Legal Aid of North Carolina announced its closing three branch offices and reducing staff and services, Jeff Fobes of Mountain Xpress reports.
This spring Congress slashed 4 percent, or $15.8 million, from the budget of the Legal Services Corp., a non-profit that distributes grants to 136 Legal Aid programs nationwide. Now the House Appropriations Committee is proposing an additional $104 million cut from the 2012 budget, Crisp reports. To find Legal Aid services available for your community, click here.