Massachusetts State House

To reduce serious inequities, ARPA funding should support civil legal assistance

House Amendment supports proposals to boost legal help with healthcare, education, family issues, and housing

BOSTON, October 28 – Funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act present a unique opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in the low-income communities that have suffered the most during the COVID-10 pandemic, especially communities of color that are seeing disproportionate harm to their health, income, and security.

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation seeks ARPA funding to support four proposals that would deliver urgently needed remedies to low-income people across Massachusetts whose lives have been worsened by the pandemic. Each initiative would address structural problems and systemic inequality.

Representatives Ruth Balser and Michael Day have filed amendment 594 to H4219. The ARPA spending bill, to fund these urgent initiatives. It is currently before the Massachusetts House of Representatives, which is considering amendments to its ARPA funding package today.

“These programs go to the heart of what ARPA funding is intended for – repairing longstanding inequities made even worse by the pandemic,” said Lynne Parker, executive director of MLAC. “Through civil legal aid interventions and representation sustainable progress can be made in reducing racial disparities in health and wealth and creating stability in families, education, and housing.”

Advocating for the package of programs included in House Amendment 594, Parker said, “ARPA funds create a unique opportunity to solve intractable problems that the pandemic has only made worse. These legal aid programs would have meaningful and lasting impacts, reducing the gaping racial wealth divide, decreasing health disparities by race and income, and preserving families and safe housing. I urge the House of Representatives to include this funding.”