Making Justice RealThe Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
In Case You Missed It – Items Worth a Read
Hunger: On December 12, the Washington Post ran a story on hunger and children and the failure of nutrition programs to resolve the problem. The article looks at the interplay between Food Stamps and other benefits programs, the need to increase Food Stamp benefits and raise the eligibility to cover more working families.
Victory in Maryland for Benefits Applicants: Congratulations to our friends at the Public Justice Center for their victory in litigation to speed up the processing of Food Stamp and Medicaid applications in Maryland. As part of recession driven austerity, the State cut benefits workers at the same time that applications were soaring. The result was long delays in the grant of benefits which denied families access to necessary medical care and nutrition. On December 10, a permanent injunction was entered requiring that applications be processed within 30 days.
An Economic Recovery Plan for People in Poverty: The Institute for Policy Studies gathered 11 progressive public policy experts to develop a jobs and relief plan in response to the recession. In Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It, they recommend a $407 billion plan to create jobs that pay a living wage and fixes to the worst tears in the safety net. This is a recovery plan that focuses on those who have been hardest hit by the recession, rather than Wall Street.
Changes at the Legal Services Corporation: Funding and Restrictions: Despite the hard work of many and a great deal of optimism, the budget for LSC is only a small improvement over past years. (Note: Legal Aid is not a grantee of the Legal Services Corporation, although we support additional funding for other programs who serve our clients.) The appropriation was increased by $30 million to $420 million. . While this is an important increase, it is still far from what is needed and leaves LSC behind the funding levels it had in the early 1990’s. More troubling, Congress failed to remove most of the restrictions that impede the ability of programs to provide the full spectrum of services that clients require. Helaine Barnett Resigns: LSC President Helaine Barnett has announced that she will step down in January. She has served in this role for the last six years, longer than any other person. During her tenure, she was able to increase the LSC budget by more than $90 million and raised the profile of the crisis in civil justice through the Justice Gap report.