After years of funding shortfalls, legal aid societies across the country are being overwhelmed by growing numbers of poor and unemployed Americans who face eviction, foreclosure, bankruptcy and other legal problems tied to the recession.
The crush of new clients comes as the cash-strapped agencies cut staff and services.
The nonprofit Legal Services Corp., which funds more than 900 legal-aid offices nationwide, says that the number of people who qualify for assistance has jumped by about 11 million since 2007, because of the recession. Roughly 51 million people are now eligible for assistance — individuals and families who earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level, now set at $27,564 a year for a family of four.
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