Stretching to Meet the Need
The number of people needing service is increasing . .
- In 2007, 13.9% of Michigan's population of 10 milllion people were living at or below the federal poverty level.
- In 17 counties served by Legal Aid of Western Michigan 15.4% of the over 2 million residents, more than 282,000 people, were living in poverty in 2007.
- In 2000, the poverty population of the counties served by Legal Aid of Western Michigan was just under 192,000 and was 11.5% of the population.
- In August 2008, USA Today reported that "Detroit's poverty rate of 33.8 percent was highest among cities of 250,000 or more, while Kalamazoo and Flint tied for fifth among cities of 65,000 to 249,999 people. Both had rates of 35.5 percent." In 2007, the poverty rate in Kalamazoo was 16.2%.
. ..the funding is not
- Most of the state and federal funding for Legal Aid is based on the number of people living in poverty in our service area in 2000.
- There have not been increases in funding to reflect the fact that the number of clients eligible for our services has increased by more than 1/3 in the last 9 years.
- The average rate of inflation since 2000 has been 2.7% per year; total funding for Legal Aid of Western Michigan has increased at a rate of just over 1% per year.
With just 35 lawyers to serve 17 counties, Legal Aid is doing its best to continue to provide services to as many as we can--more than 10,000 clients were served in 2008--but many of those received advice when they needed an advocate or instruction on how to handle their own case when they needed a lawyer to go to Court.
Your Contribution can help to fill this gap in the Access to Justice . . .