New York City?
Sitting in my office, overlooking Finlay Park in Columbia, South Carolina may seem far removed from New York City but people living in poverty NYC and SC share similar legal problems. Consider the recent New York Times Editorial that advocates for stable funding for Legal Services.
People need decent representation when doing battle with bad landlords and employers, callous health maintenance organizations and government agencies, disgruntled business partners and grasping relatives. And in an era of predatory home loans, the legal needs of distressed homeowners are urgent and steadily rising.
Advocates for the poor argue, persuasively, that outlays for civil legal services are budgetary pennies that save many dollars. A foreclosure prevented is an eviction avoided, a family kept from homelessness — and a considerable burden lifted from the government’s social-service safety net. With legal help, poor people can avoid litigation, easing the load on judges and courtrooms. They can get food stamps, leveraging federal dollars in an underused program. If they avoid the poorhouse they will have, by definition, more money to spend, increasing sales tax revenues and benefiting local businesses.
The same arguments can be made here, in South Carolina.
Isn’t it time we acted accordingly?