October 31, 2008
The Economic Crisis and Legal Clinics: Stories from the Field, Part 3
Stories have been coming in from Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois and New York. While the effect of the economic crisis on legal clinics is not regional, there are areas of the U.S. where the sharp impact is undeniable. Arlene Kane, with Legal Aid of Palm Beach County, reports: "Our LITC [low income taxpayer clinic] is in Palm Beach County, Florida. I see daily the people in our clinic who are in foreclosure or are about to be. Some through no fault of their own and some who did bite off more than they knew they could afford. But most were led through this by lenders who knew they could not afford the cost of these homes, even if they kept their jobs."
Tax clinics continue to see a steady stream of clients who had one legal problem, such as a foreclosure, that has developed into a different, related issue. As Prof. Diana Leyden notes, the IRS may be quicker to target possible revenue sources and less likely to let taxpayers off the hook, despite their inability to pay. Ms. Kane agrees, "IRS has been less then speedy releasing Levies on Federal payments. So, we are seeing many folks who have done what they needed to do to get in "full compliance" and still have 1 or 2 more months levied. Then it takes forever to get the funds returned, if ever."
The economic downtown has also resulted in substantial decreases in public and private funding for the provision of free or low-cost legal services. Ms. Kane addresses this stark reality, "We have a large homeless population here. Legal Aid, United Way and many community organizations are trying to help all the folks that are suffering. Many places are running out of funds and donations are down, as the people that were donating are now looking for help for themselves." -jl
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Economic Crisis and Legal Clinics: Stories from the Field, Part 3: