Clients and supporters speak out for NHLA
Clients and supporters tell N.H. House:
NHLA is “an important and needed cause in New Hampshire”
April 2015 -- Concord, NH
New Hampshire Legal Assistance is grateful that the N.H. House recommended level funding NHLA's appropriation for FY 2016-17, so we can continue to offer clients in need of civil legal aid equal access to the justice system.
We are also grateful to clients and board members who shared their stories with the House Finance Committee at its recent public hearings in Concord, Derry and North Conway.
Gov. Maggie Hassan and the House both recommended level-funding NHLA’s state appropriation at $1.2 million per year. The recommendation is 30 percent less than the organization received in 2010.
“Our organization works hard to raise funds and to find diverse funding sources. But the state appropriation remains our most important source of funds,” said Jim Kerouac, chairman of the NHLA Board of Directors.
The appropriation allows NHLA to represent clients such as George West’s 96-year-old mother-in-law, who was wrongfully denied a property tax exemption after her husband died.
“She is still very independent for her age and she is able and wants to stay in her home. She would not have been able to, were it not for New Hampshire Legal Assistance,” West said.
Ron Monchgesang and his family faced a foreclosure in 2008, and turned to NHLA for help. “They could not represent us, could not take our case, quite frankly because of budget constraints,” he said.
“But they did offer us education; they did offer us guidance…(so) we got a favorable decision from the superior court, restoring the title back to us. We are thankful for what they have done for us, for me and my family and we are very thankful to you the budget committee for continuing to fund such an important and needed cause in New Hampshire.”
Jennifer, a victim of domestic violence, said her advocate from New Hampshire Legal Assistance helped ensure her and her son’s safety after she left her abuser. “Continue to fund this program so that other victims can leave,” she asked the committee.
Hundreds of people spoke to the committee about funding for domestic violence victims, mental illness treatment and developmental disability services.
“Every citizen that you have heard from this evening will not receive the services they need or the protections we should afford them if we do not give them access to our courts,” said board member Michael Delaney, who worked with the Legislature frequently when he served as New Hampshire Attorney General from 2009 until 2013.
Delaney told the committee about the nostalgia he felt entering the State House’s majestic Hall of Flags for the hearing that day.
“But I can assure you,” he said, “for our low-income citizens, the entrance to our courts is not nearly as majestic. Your support of Legal Assistance gives our low income citizens that semblance of a Hall of Flag for our courts.”
New Hampshire Legal Assistance is a state-wide law firm for poor and elderly New Hampshire residents. Since 1971, NHLA has worked to fulfill America’s promise of equal access to justice by providing civil legal services to New Hampshire’s most vulnerable residents, including education and empowerment, advice, representation, and advocacy for systemic improvements.