Investing In Justice, Strengthening Communities: How Everyone in Missouri Benefits from Funding for Legal Aid

By: Resource for Great Programs. Published by: Missouri Legal Aid Network. Published in October 2009.

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During 2000-2009, the Missouri Legal Aid Network has:

Secured Protective Orders for 17,600 victims of domestic violence. Research has proven that legal assistance is the single most effective way to stop domestic violence.

Enabled 18,900 children and their families to avoid homelessness through our representation in eviction and foreclosure cases.

Helped 3,700 people obtain access to health care who have disabilities that keep them from working. This improved their quality of life and reduced the cost of emergency-room medical treatment.

Due to limited resources, we prioritize problems that seriously affect people’s ability to provide for themselves and their families — for example: domestic violence, home eviction or foreclosure, loss of basic income, access to medical care.

Benefits

While our work is focused on solving long-term problems for individuals and families, the impacts ripple outward to benefit the whole community. Helping those in need helps everyone. By eliminating domestic violence, legal aid reduces crime, produces healthier, happier children who are less likely to become victims or perpetrators of violence and allows survivors to go back to living healthy, productive lives. We also reduce the costs of emergency-room medical treatment and police protection for victims and costs of prosecution and incarceration of abusers.

Keeping families in their homes saves tax dollars. By helping clients avoid homelessness, we not only preserve their shelter, we save Missouri taxpayers over a million dollars annually in emergency shelter costs. This work also ensures that children who would otherwise miss school because of homelessness will be able to stay in school.

Bringing income into the state strengthens local economies. By securing Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for a disabled person who is unable to work, we not only enable that person to live in dignity but also bring income into communities that would otherwise be lost to the state’s economy. . These federal dollars have a powerful multiplier effect by circulating immediately through the local economy, resulting in additional sales for businesses and more jobs for working Missourians.

Helping our clients, we make other institutions work better. Lawmakers refer their constituents to us for legal help. Courts rely on us to help people navigate the legal system, negotiate solutions that otherwise would require litigation, and screen out non-meritorious cases before they enter the court system. Family shelters and public agencies work more efficiently by referring their clients to us for legal assistance.

Legal aid is cost-effective. Every dollar of revenue for a legal aid program produces $1.84 of measurable economic impacts and many other benefits that are not quantifiable. These dollars are in addition to the intangible benefits that come from providing fair solutions to critical legal problems faced by Missourians living in poverty.



Categories: General/Unspecified Clients, Legal Aid Practitioners, Policymakers and Funders, State-Specific

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