Hearing: Low-income residents' access to legal resources benefits all
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- They say you get what you pay for.
And the truth of that old axiom is glaringly apparent for low-income borough residents who don't have the means to hire a lawyer or access necessary civil legal services to help them secure insurance, health-care or disability benefits, fight foreclosure or deal with complicated child-custody issues.
In an endeavor to bridge that gap, Jonathan Lippman, the state's chief judge, conducted a public hearing Tuesday in St. George to assess the resources required to meet low-income New Yorkers' legal needs.
City Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) said the two main providers of free legal services on Staten Island -- Legal Services NYC and the Legal Aid Society -- do outstanding work. They assisted more than 10,000 people last year alone, but more help and funding is desperately needed.
"As an elected official, I know that the provision of civil legal services not only saves lives but saves money, as well," she said. "(Low-income residents') unmet legal needs invariably take a toll on local government and on the taxpayers; from housing, to medical care to education, the long-term costs of unrepresented individuals in our legal system touch all aspects of a community."