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Louisiana Legal Aid Providers Receive $11.6 Million to Help Natural Disaster Victims

WASHINGTON—The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that it is awarding $4,713,487 to Acadiana Legal Service Corporation (ALSC) and $6,471,368 to Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) to support the delivery of legal services to low-income people impacted by Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Delta, Hurricane Laura and other severe weather events in 2020 and 2021.   

ALSC and SLLS are two of 19 organizations around the country receiving grants for natural disasters faced in 2020 and 2021. Congress included $40 million for LSC in a $28.6 billion emergency supplemental appropriation attached to the September 2021 Continuing Resolution to fund the government in FY 2022. 

Survivors of natural disasters often require immediate legal assistance to file for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance and insurance benefits and to deal with related evictions, unemployment and document replacement. Legal challenges can haunt survivors for years. Cases involving FEMA appeals, bankruptcy, public housing and domestic violence will arise, and disaster victims can be vulnerable to fraud or scams.  

“Low-income people who confront civil legal issues in the wake of natural disasters face an uphill battle, and they shouldn’t have to go it alone,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg. “We are grateful that Congress recognizes the need for legal assistance in these recovering communities and provided this funding that will help our neighbors repair and stay in their homes, obtain key identification documents, apply for benefits and so much more.” 

ALSC will use its project grant to create a Disaster Unit dedicated to providing disaster legal services to survivors of the 2020-2021 disasters, complete with mobile units and additional vehicles to expand its ability to reach and serve survivors in devastated areas, remote rural locations and “legal deserts.” Additionally, ALSC will purchase generators for the Alexandria, Monroe, Natchitoches and Shreveport offices, allowing clients to access any of its offices. The Franklin office will be expanded or relocated to provide increased services to survivors of Hurricane Ida. LSC is also granting ALSC an additional $503,477 to reimburse already incurred costs from providing natural disaster services in 2020 and 2021. 

SLLS will use its grant funds to increase the delivery of disaster legal services through staff and pro bono partners, implement an extensive marketing campaign and hold community-based legal clinics in hard-hit areas. SLLS also plans to share “Know Your Rights” information through Facebook Live events, blog resources and www.LouisianaLawHelp.org. These investments will enable SLLS to not only respond to Ida’s impact but to strengthen the state’s infrastructure to better respond to inevitable future disasters in high-risk Louisiana. 

Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation voiced their support for Acadiana Legal Service Corporation and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ work to help disaster survivors. 

“As our community struggles to recover from Hurricane Ida, COVID and other challenges, it is important that our own government doesn’t revictimize its citizens through red tape, legal roadblocks and just not responding,” said Rep. Garret Graves (LA-6). “Legal Services Corporation has helped many of those in need navigate through the legal bureaucracy to get the help they need. This funding will provide the resources for attorneys to help with FEMA appeals, insurance claims and many other challenges.” 

“Disaster survivors have already been through enough, they shouldn’t have to deal with endless bureaucracy and red tape,” said Rep. Troy Carter (LA-2). “These grants from the Legal Services Corporation will provide much-needed legal assistance to those struggling to recover from Hurricanes Ida, Delta, and Laura and navigate FEMA claims and appeals, insurance claims, and much more. In Congress, I am committed to helping make our disaster response systems work better for the people, and these funds are a critical part of the equation.”

  

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