Below is an excerpt from a May 30 op-ed published in The Lowell Sun. The piece was written by James P. Hall, President of Northeast Legal Aid, in support of increased civil legal aid funding in Massachusetts.
As state lawmakers construct a balanced budget that meets all of our needs, they should consider an increase in state funding for civil legal aid.
In fiscal year 2017 the work of civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts, including Northeast Legal Aid, which serves Lynn, Lowell and Lawrence, provided an economic benefit of $59.2 million to the state’s economy. By providing free legal representation in noncriminal legal matters to low-income people, the state received increased federal benefits and helped residents avoid unlawful evictions and foreclosures, or secure healthcare services to which they were rightfully entitled. Simply put, it’s cheaper for the commonwealth to help prevent a family from becoming homeless than it is to pay to shelter them after the fact. Likewise, it’s more cost effective to ensure that a military veteran receives the healthcare services he or she needs rather than have that person seek more costly emergency room care with no way to pay for it.