LSC is requesting that supplemental funding of $350-500 million be included in the COVID-19 relief package under consideration to address the short- and long-term consequences of the pandemic. This funding would help LSC’s grantees to assist individuals facing urgent legal issues brought on by the pandemic.
“COVID-19 continues to increase enormously the life-altering civil legal needs faced by low-income Americans and legal aid can be a game-changer in addressing those needs,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg. “The dramatic spike in legal needs caused by COVID-19 coupled with precipitous declines in state and local funding underscore the continuing need for emergency federal funding for legal aid.”
The new leadership of the Congressional Access to Legal Aid Caucus expressed support for legal services organizations and LSC’s request during a recent virtual forum (described above).
Rep. Tom Emmer: “As you have fought for those most affected by this pandemic, your government should assist your efforts. Legal aid funding should be an important piece of our recovery plan."
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick: “When taking into consideration the funding cuts and practical day-to-day challenges of working remotely that legal aid organizations everywhere are facing, it's imperative that LSC receive additional funding to allow for their continuation of aid to our low-income constituents.”
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon: “We want to try to grow the legal aid caucus so that we have a broader reach. Many members of Congress say, ‘Oh yes, we always support legal services,’ but they don't understand how—relative to the ’70s—the funding for legal services has not kept pace. I want to work on educating them about that.”
The caucus leadership previously had sent a letter of support for LSC’s funding request to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. LSC-funded organizations “are on the frontlines in assisting people during the pandemic,” the letter stated. “With a significant investment, LSC grantees can continue their stellar work serving clients remotely and enhance their efforts to improve their organizational infrastructure to better serve clients.”