Gov. Kathy Hochul Responds to Legal Advocates, Restoring $100 Million in Aid for Low-Income New Yorkers.
Photo: Hans Pennink/AP
Gov. Kathy Hochul has amended her executive budget to restore $100 million to a fund dedicated to providing civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers. This move comes after intense lobbying from the legal community, including the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).
Richard Lewis, president of the NYSBA, praised the governor’s decision, and explained the critical nature of these funds for New Yorkers facing serious civil legal issues.
“The New York State Bar Association commends Gov. Kathy Hochul for reversing her decision to remove $100 million from a fund that pays for civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers who are about to lose their homes, who are seeking lifesaving medical treatment, who need help recovering from crushing debt or are facing other life-changing civil legal challenges,” Lewis said.
The initial proposal to redirect the funds to the state’s general fund had sparked widespread concern among legal aid providers, fearing a potential loss of crucial support for services ranging from housing defense to medical treatment access. The IOLA Fund, established in 1983, has been a key resource for civil legal aid in the state, with its current balance standing at $375 million.
Governor Hochul’s office had previously justified the proposed transfer by citing the fund’s high balance due to favorable interest rates and substantial state contributions over the past seven years. However, the backlash from the legal sector, underscored by a campaign of public advocacy and letters from hundreds of attorneys and social service organizations, prompted a reevaluation of the decision.
“This money is under the purview of the IOLA Fund, which supports 81 non-profit legal services organizations that help New Yorkers in their time of greatest need,” said NYSBA