Missourians facing an eviction or some other legal issue often rely on a lawyer’s help.
But what about when that person is below the poverty line?
All four legal aid regions in Missouri received a major revenue boost through an appropriation bill signed last month by Gov. Mike Parsons.
With Parson’s signature, $125 million was distributed among the agencies.
Money hit accounts within the last couple of weeks — at least, that was the case for Mid-Missouri Legal Services, said Susan Lutton, executive director.
“We learned about it a year ago that there was a possibility it would happen. Of course, we never dreamed this amount of money would float through to us,” Lutton said.
Mid-Missouri Legal Services operates in an 11-county region. The corporation is “committed to achieving full access to justice in civil matters for central Missourians … who cannot afford to hire an attorney,” per its mission statement.
The agency received $10.2 million of the $125 million pool.
“We are the smallest program in the state,” Lutton said.
The organization intends to be a good steward of the money, she said.
“Our board and staff are figuring out what positions we want to fill first,” Lutton said. “… It is an exciting time. We are trying to make the funds last, so that we can keep services going and never constrict services again.”
Legal aid agencies lost out on appropriations in the 1990s and have not seen a budgetary boost in 25 to 30 years, Lutton said, adding a lot of time is spent grant writing to fill in the budget gaps.
Even with the $10.2 million boost, grant writing will continue.
“This (appropriation) is going to help tremendously to get us where we want to be in terms of providing client services,” she said. “We have