More funding needed to help low-income families in court

Advocates and attorneys are pushing for $25M

BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation pairs low-income families with legal representation for civil cases. Supporters and attorneys gathered at the State House Thursday to push for more funding.

The program connects low-income families with legal assistance for a broad range of issues ranging from domestic violence and foreclosures to victimizing the elderly. The service is paid for by you, the taxpayer.

Despite getting $15-million from the state last year, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation said more funding is needed. A representative from Community Legal Aid of Western Massachusetts told 22News they can only afford to serve about one-third of the people who come into their office.

Without the program people who can’t afford a lawyer end up representing themselves in court. Advocates and attorneys are pushing for $25-million in funding for fiscal 2016 so more people can get the legal help they need in court.

Andrea Carrillo of the Community Legal Aid of Western Mass. said, “Our office serves about 5-thousand people every year so we’re definitely looking to help more people that come through the door.”

It’s now up to state lawmakers to decide how much money to spend on civil legal aid. Governor Baker plans to file his fiscal 2016 budget in early March.

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