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The Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) is the statewide membership organization for almost 100 legal nonprofits. LAAC advocates for more funding and better laws for legal nonprofits, facilitates communication and coordination between organizations, trains in core substantive areas, analyzes best practices, and works to increase access to justice for all Californians.
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LAAC Stands Up for Legal Aid
With the increased attention on legal aid, due to proposed budget cuts eliminating federal funding for legal services, LAAC and our members have been in the news a lot recently.
As the unified voice for legal aid in California, we have been vocal in our support of the Legal Services Corporation - which 11 of our members directly benefit from, maintaining funding for legal services nationally, and increasing funding for legal aid in California.
Recent Press Clips
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, along with two plaintiffs who are currently incarcerated, have filed a class-action lawsuit against Shasta County Jail, alleging that the institution discriminates against people with disabilities. The lawsuit cites the facilities’ sub par conditions for inmates with disabilities. Many parts of the jail are not ADA-compliant and it appears […] (Mentions: Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC) , Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) )
Legal Aid at Work and Disability Rights Advocates have filed a complaint against the Bay Area Rapid Transit, citing their multiple civil rights violations that hurt people with disabilities. (Mentions: Legal Aid at Work )
Housing lawyers are reporting a troubling trend: Landlords exploiting the growing fear of immigration authorities to evict tenants, raise rents, and clear residents from gentrifying neighborhoods. (Mentions: Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP) , Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County , National Housing Law Project (NHLP) )
While other undocumented communities are growing more vocal, undocumented Asian and Pacific Islanders face stigma. (Mentions: Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) )
There is no reason for schools to know a students' immigration status, and by requiring that information advocates fear fewer immigrant families will send their children to school. (Mentions: California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) , Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) )
Recent Op-Ed on the Importance of Legal Aid
Written by State Senator Bob Wieckowski and LAAC Executive Driector Salena Copeland.
Soaring rent increases in the Bay Area the past few years have left many families scrambling to find a place they can afford. Jason Tarricone, directing attorney of the Housing Program for Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, knows first-hand how skyrocketing rents can push families to the brink of homelessness.
The Silicon Valley nonprofit helps thousands of people each year avoid homelessness, gain legal status as immigrants, and increase their incomes. Last year, Community Legal Services helped over 150 families stay in their homes. And in late 2015, they negotiated an agreement that allowed 70 families to remain in a Redwood City apartment complex for an extra nine months, giving them the time and relocation assistance they needed to find new homes. Tarricone says that without the free legal help organizations like his provide, more Californians would be living on the streets. Yet the lack of funding for vital legal aid programs severely limits the amount of assistance these organizations can offer, even at a time when demand for their services is growing. Although some people might believe they have the right to an attorney, there is no such right in civil cases.
This is why we join with legal service organizations throughout California in calling on the state to provide $30 million to reach the national average in civil legal aid funding. President Trump’s budget threatens to eliminate all federal aid provided through the Legal Services Corporation. That leaves the state’s Equal Access Fund to help bridge this growing gap. Established in 1999, the fund receives just $10 million a year, a number that has only been boosted once – a $5 million increase that many of us fought hard for in this year’s state budget.
A 2013 report to the Legislature found that there are nearly 10,000 eligible Californians for every one legal aid attorney. Without additional state funding, the number of people who lack representation in our legal system will only increase.
Printed from the San Jose Mercury News. Read the full article.