BOSTON, July 19, 2018 – Yesterday, the Massachusetts Legislature approved the Conference Committee’s FY19 Budget Recommendations, including $21,040,000 for civil legal aid through the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), a $3 million increase over FY18. MLAC expresses its deep gratitude to the Conference Committee and the Legislature and urges Governor Baker to approve this funding when he signs the FY19 Budget.
The 14 civil legal aid programs funded by MLAC assist low-income individuals and families across Massachusetts in resolving civil legal problems related to housing, employment, immigration, health care, domestic violence, access to educational accommodations, and other issues. Residents with incomes at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level—$31,375 a year for a family of four—are eligible. Lack of funding currently forces legal aid programs to turn away 45,000 eligible residents each year — roughly two out of every three people who seek help.
By increasing funding for civil legal aid, Governor Baker will assist low-income individuals and families and save the state money. The work of MLAC-funded civil legal aid programs provided an economic benefit of more than $59 million to the state and its residents in FY17, including $17.6 million in new federal revenue entering the state, $24.3 million in benefits won for residents, and $17.2 million in cost savings. Investments in civil legal aid enable Massachusetts to use its resources more efficiently.
“We are extremely grateful to the Conference Committee for recommending this funding increase. It will allow legal aid programs to help more people in need, and help the Commonwealth deliver on its promise of equal justice for all,” said Lonnie Powers, MLAC Executive Director. “We respectfully ask the Governor to reaffirm his support by including $21,040,000 for civil legal aid in the final FY19 budget.”
The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation was established by the Commonwealth 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.