September 3, 2008

San Antonio legal aid groups receive $450,000 in grants

San Antonio Business Journal

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation approved $450,190 worth of grants to four San Antonio nonprofit groups that provide legal aid to the poor.

Catholic Charities of San Antonio will receive $190,043 in funds. Family Violence Prevention Services Inc. will receive $87,721. Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education will receive $68,415 and St. Mary’s Immigration Clinic will receive $104,011.

In all, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation allocated more than $24 million to 40 nonprofits throughout the state that provide civil legal aid to the poor.

The Texas Supreme Court created the foundation to help provide low-income individuals obtain help in the civil courts on issues of need. Unlike the criminal justice system, which grants the right to an attorney, low-income Texans are not guaranteed legal representation.

The foundation collects money from several funds, including Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, Basic Civil Legal Services, crime victims’ funds and private donations.

The money collected by the foundation allows public interest lawyers to offer legal advise and representation to low-income Texans in areas such as landlord-tenant issues, family law, employment law, access to earned benefits and consumer issues.

To qualify, an individual cannot earn more than $13,000 a year. Families of four must earn less than $26,500 a year. Texas is the eighth-poorest state in the country with 3.9 million Texans living below the poverty line.

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