Legal Services and the coronavirus
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and legal aid have long enjoyed bipartisan support because, as COVID-19 has demonstrated, Americans’ legal health is critical to our communities’ health.
Ohio’s legal aids are on the frontline of COVID-19 response: ensuring that Ohioans experiencing domestic violence are able to get to court and be safe from their abuser; providing legal advice and counsel on accessing financial resources like federal stimulus checks and unemployment benefits; and, defending against evictions and foreclosures to ensure that Ohioans remain stably housed during this critical time during the “Stay at Home Order.” Such matters, if left unaddressed, threaten not only individual Ohioans, but all of us and our communities.
LSC funding provides just over $13M to Ohio’s legal aids, which was just under a third of the statewide legal aid budget for 2018. This year, recognizing the significant impact that the coronavirus is having on families across the country, the CARES Act provided emergency funding for legal aid. Ohio’s legal aids will receive over $1.9M of the special CARES Act appropriation and are already leveraging their resources to address the heightened need of Ohio’s families.
However, there is much more work to be done. The health crisis and related economic downturn will greatly increase the need for legal services.
Please reach out to your Congressperson and ask them to support an additional $50M in emergency funding for LSC in the next federal coronavirus response package so that our legal aids can continue helping Ohioans in need.
Legal Services in the Budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21)
LSC will receive $465M in the FY21 omnibus spending bill set to be passed by Congress in December 2020. This marks a 5.7% increase over FY20, but it is still short of the $652.6M LSC requested for this fiscal year.
Please also reach out to your Congressperson and ask them to continue supporting LSC to ensure access to justice for all Ohioans, especially in this time when we need it most.