Free legal services are in imminent danger of facing devastating cuts. We are deeply concerned about the potential $8.4 billion cut in the New York State Aid to Localities budget, which could gut civil legal services across NYS. These services help individuals and families obtain vital resources, such as healthcare, critical benefits, safe housing, stable income, and freedom from abuse.
Budget cuts will impact the people hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – those with disabilities, families experiencing poverty, domestic violence survivors, communities of color, and seniors already struggling with isolation, neglect, and abuse.
The pandemic has reinforced the essential nature of CELJ’s work. A recent client called us asking for help with a landlord dispute. Due to her COVID-19 diagnosis, her landlord refused to help her with a broken furnace, and she was left recovering in the cold. Our attorney immediately made contact with the landlord and worked to provide a solution. Others are facing illegal lockouts during the eviction moratorium, and still others are struggling to gain access to clean water. If our budget is cut, how many Western New Yorkers will be denied the essentials that they so desperately need?
Send Governor Cuomo and your local representatives a message, and let them know why free legal services must be preserved.
Sample language: “I am a supporter of the Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ), an organization that provides free civil legal services to ensure that Western New Yorkers live independently and with dignity. I am worried about the potential $8.4 billion cuts in the Aid to Localities budget which could gut civil legal services across NYS that help these individuals and families obtain vital resources, such as healthcare, safe housing, stable income, and freedom from abuse. These communities are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and I have seen first-hand how valuable free legal services act as a lifeline during a crisis, ensuring access to justice for those who need it most. New York State cannot make cuts on the backs of our most vulnerable. Please preserve this funding.”