Below is an excerpt from a January 30 article published by South Coast Today about the EJC’s annual lobby day, Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Lonnie Powers, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), and Susan Nagl, Executive Director of South Coastal Counties Legal Services, are quoted.
Hundreds of Massachusetts attorneys descended on Beacon Hill on Thursday to lobby for increased state funding for civil legal aid programs that help provide legal advice and representation to low-income and elderly Bay State residents.
“Civil legal aid represents the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Lonnie Powers, executive director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, which distributes money from the state to local legal aid programs.
The governor’s proposed budget, announced last week, would allot $13 million to legal aid. Those assembled at the Statehouse on Thursday were lobbying to increase the amount to $17 million.
“We’re going to be working as hard as we possibly can to convince the Legislature that in a $40 billion budget, they can find $4 million more for such a vital service,” Powers said, referring to the governor’s $34.6 billion budget proposal.
Civil legal aid, partially funded by the state, is designed to help low income or elderly clients get legal help in non-criminal issues such as housing, domestic violence and elderly services.
The South Coastal Counties Legal Services, one nonprofit organization funded in part by the state’s civil legal aid, serves the five counties of Southeastern Massachusetts. Susan Nagl, South Coastal’s executive director, said the non-profit has helped many homeowners and tenants fight foreclosure, including one man whose foreclosed home had been in the family since the 1940s.
“We were able to stop an eviction and help him negotiate a buyback of his home,” Nagl said.