Thursday, April 30, 2015
May 1, 2015 is Law Day. In observance of this day, John Levi, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation, has issued a statement describing the declining resources of the program and the rising need of low income Americans. Here is an excerpt:
In 1976, LSC’s first year of full congressional funding when the percent of the population eligible for LSC-funded legal assistance stood at 12%, the fledgling LSC was allocated by Congress, in inflation-adjusted terms, more than $468 million, rising three years later to its all-time high of what today would be more than $880 million. But today, despite our best efforts, the FY-2015 allocation of $375 million is less than half of that. Even 10 years ago, LSC’s actual funding was $400 million.
Since then, as LSC funding has declined and remained low, the population eligible for LSC-funded assistance has grown to all-time highs. In 2013, the most recent year for which U.S. Census Bureau data are available, 63.6 million people — one in five Americans — had annual incomes below the threshold for LSC-funded legal assistance of 125 percent of the federal poverty line. Another 32.4 million people had incomes below that level for at least two consecutive months during the year and thus were eligible for our assistance. In other words, nearly one in three Americans — 96 million people — qualified for LSC-funded services at some time during 2013.
You can read more here.