New Report Shows Civil Legal Aid Generates Millions in New Revenue and Cost Savings for Massachusetts

BOSTON, February 16, 2016 – Massachusetts civil aid programs generated an estimated $35.1 million in new revenue and cost savings for the Commonwealth in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015, according to a new report by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC).

The state appropriation for MLAC in fiscal year 2015 was $14.7 million, reflecting a 1.79% mid-year cut to the initial appropriation of $15 million.

“Providing relief from the suffering experienced from domestic violence; resolving child custody disputes; retaining housing; or regaining access to improperly denied benefits such as unemployment insurance or Medicaid is reason enough for the Commonwealth to invest in civil legal aid for low income people,” said Lonnie Powers, executive director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. “But this report clearly shows that the state’s investment yields significant economic benefits, and public spending on effective, successful civil legal aid programs not only improves lives, it also provides immediate savings.”

The report is based on data submitted to MLAC by the 14 civil legal aid programs it funds in the Commonwealth.

Key findings include:

• Civil legal aid programs brought at least $13.5 million in new federal dollars to Massachusetts. Specific sources included: $7.4 million increase in federal nutrition assistance benefits (SNAP); $5.2 million from successful representation in federal disability benefits appeals (SSI/SSDI); $182,962 from successful representation in Medicare coverage appeals; and $760,966 for successful representation in federal tax appeals.
• Civil legal aid programs secured $9.9 million in additional financial support for low-income residents, including $3 million in rent relief and moving expenses for tenants in eviction cases; $2.6 million in compensation and debt relief for homeowners and former homeowners in foreclosure cases; $2.2 million in child support orders obtained; and $2.1 million in Unemployment Insurance benefits that were won on appeal.
• Civil legal aid programs saved the Commonwealth $11.6 million, including $7.3 million in avoided shelter and health care costs through preserving housing for low-income residents facing eviction; $2.9 million in avoided medical and mental health care costs through domestic violence prevention; and $1.4 million in foster care costs through obtaining custody orders for unaccompanied immigrant minors.

 

About MLAC
The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation was established by the state legislature in 1983 to ensure that low-income people with critical, non-criminal legal problems would have access to legal information, advice and representation. It is the largest funding source for civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.mlac.org.

MLAC Statement on Governor Baker’s Budget Recommendation

Media Contact:

Catherine Rizos
617-391-5627
crizos@mlac.org

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation Statement on Governor Baker’s Budget Recommendation

BOSTON, January 27, 2016―Today, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker released his FY2017 budget with a recommendation to fund services for civil legal aid in FY2017 at $17,170,000, an increase of $170,000 over FY2016. Currently, more than 60 percent of those eligible for civil legal aid in Massachusetts who seek services are turned away due to lack of resources. Given the great depth of unmet need among those seeking civil legal aid, and the significant return on investment yielded by civil legal aid funding, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) will continue to advocate for a $10 million increase, for a total appropriation of $27 million.

Tomorrow, Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court and Attorney General Maura Healey will join hundreds of private attorneys from more than 40 law firms at the Massachusetts State House for the 17th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Attendees of this annual lobby day, one of the largest held at the State House each year, will request a $10 million increase in state funding for MLAC, which disburses the state’s civil legal aid funding to 14 civil legal aid programs across the state. With this increased investment, civil legal aid programs can begin to address the shortages in staff and other resources that prevent them from serving eligible clients/residents.

“Civil legal aid is integral to helping low-income people deal with the crises that confront them in everyday life,” said Lonnie Powers, executive director of MLAC. “Civil legal aid helps the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents avoid homelessness and unemployment, gain access to health care and veterans’ services, receive a quality education, and escape domestic violence—and does so in a cost-effective manner.”

The request for a $10 million increase in civil legal aid funding is based on a recommendation by the Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts, which issued a report in 2014 that determined civil legal aid is unavailable to the majority of qualified residents who seek it. The report called for an additional state investment of $30 million in civil legal aid in Massachusetts.

The Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts was created by the Boston Bar Association in April 2013 to assess the work of civil legal aid in Massachusetts and determine how best to address unmet civil legal aid needs.

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ABOUT MLAC

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation was established by the state legislature in 1983 to ensure that low-income people with critical, non-criminal legal problems would have access to legal information, advice and representation. MLAC is the largest funding source for civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.mlac.org.

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation Launches New Website

Media Contact:
Catherine Rizos
617-391-5627
crizos@mlac.org

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation Launches New Website

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation invites visitors to connect with resources, program information, and news about civil legal aid

BOSTON, December 17, 2015 – The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the largest funding source for civil legal aid in the Commonwealth, announced today the launch of its newly redesigned website. The revamped site is easy to navigate, provides a simple web-based referral service, and highlights the work of the legal services programs MLAC supports.

The website boasts a modern design, with a clean layout and visuals that capture the heart of what civil legal aid is about: helping clients. The home page quickly links those looking for legal services for low-income people with local legal aid programs, as well as online resources like the Legal Resource Finder, and MassLegalHelp.org. By providing clear direction on where to find legal services and information, potential clients can more easily find answers to questions about their issue.

While the 14 programs supported by MLAC focus on different regions and issue areas, the programs are tied together by their commitment to an equitable and accessible justice system. The website serves as a space to explore the common threads that connect the programs, and contains a blog and program news section to share updates, success stories, and new ideas about civil legal aid. The site also functions smoothly with social media platforms, allowing ideas to be shared within and beyond the legal services community.

“We are excited about the launch of our new website and the easy access to information about our programs that it provides,” said Lonnie A. Powers, Executive Director of MLAC. “By connecting clients, legal services organizations, and the public with resources on civil legal aid, our new website is just one of the many steps we are taking to move closer to equal justice for all.”

ABOUT MLAC

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation was established by the state legislature in 1983 to ensure that low-income people with critical, non-criminal legal problems would have access to legal information, advice and representation. For more information, visit http://www.mlac.org.

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Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation Board Welcomes Appointment of Three New Members

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation Board Welcomes Appointment of Three New Members Bilek, Rafik, and Stone Appointed by Supreme Judicial Court BOSTON, December 1, 2015 – The board of directors of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), the largest funding source for civil legal aid in the Commonwealth, welcomes three new members, Mary Lu Bilek, Mala […]