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NCBA Opposes Legal Aid Funding Cuts

NCBA Opposes Legal Aid Funding Cuts

The North Carolina Bar Association issued the following message to its members this morning:

The North Carolina House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee has proposed a provision for the 2017 Budget entitled “Eliminate Access to Civil Justice Funds.” If enacted as written, this provision would eliminate approximately $1.7 million in combined funding for Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and Pisgah Legal Services. Eliminating Access to Civil Justice Funds would cause drastic reductions in legal aid agencies’ services to those most in need, undermining equal access to justice for North Carolina citizens.

The budget process in the General Assembly is moving very fast. We ask that you contact your representatives and senators in the North Carolina legislature today, as well as other legislators whom you know personally, and ask them to maintain full funding for legal aid services. Contact information for legislators serving your area is accessible via the NCBA’s Legislative Action Center (click here).

Seventeen percent of North Carolinians live in poverty, and legal aid providers are already stretched woefully thin. The household income for 59 percent of North Carolina legal aid clients is under $15,000, and 74 percent are women. Legal aid providers work to protect victims of domestic violence, to protect families, to prevent homelessness, to aid the disabled, and to assist veterans. But even at current funding levels, the legal needs of more than 80 percent of North Carolinians who qualify for legal aid go unmet.

The North Carolina Bar Association unequivocally supports the availability of legal services to all North Carolinians. Both the NCBA and the North Carolina Bar Foundation work on numerous fronts to support our state’s legal aid providers, including our members’ pro bono activities and the Foundation’s Legal Aid of North Carolina Fund. Today, though, the most critical front is the General Assembly. Only North Carolina’s lawyers, in every community and legislative district across the state, can convey to the legislature how critical legal aid is to our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Time is of the essence. Please contact your legislators today.