Legal Aid's Chief Attorney Urges City Council to Restore Funding for Civil Legal Services; Predicts Dire Consequences for Low-Income New Yorkers
MONDAY, JUNE 04, 2012

Steven Banks, the Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society, told the New York City Council on Friday, June 1 that unless civil legal services funding is restored low-income families and individuals will face dire consequences. The FY13 Executive Budget proposes to eliminate all funding for the civil legal services initiatives that the Council funded in the FY12 budget.

"The consequences of eliminating this critical Council civil legal services funding will be dire – increases in evictions, foreclosures and homelessness, increases in the number of women and children who cannot escape domestic violence, increases in the numbers of immigrants lawfully in this country who will be wrongfully deported, and increases in the numbers of children and adults who will go without subsistence income, health care, and food because of bureaucratic mistakes that cannot be challenged effectively in the absence of counsel," he said. "If this funding is not restored, we will have to substantially reduce our provision of civil legal services in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island notwithstanding the increasing numbers of New Yorkers who desperately need legal assistance in these difficult economic times."

Adriene Holder, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice, joined Banks in making the presentation at the joint hearing of the Council's Finance Committee and Fire and Criminal Justice Committee. She noted that the funding cuts are slated to take effect on July 1 and therefore the need the restoration is urgent.

Deborah Wright, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, and representatives of 1199 -- Stacy Gray who is the 1199 organizer for the Society's local chapter, Lillie Carino who works in 1199's political action unit, and Legal Aid 1199 members Irma Camacho, Maria Joza, and Magnus Mukoro -- as well as Bernette Carway-Spruiell of the Society attended the hearing to support the Society's restoration request.

View the full testimony (PDF).