Texas Access to Justice Foundation
Funds will support 15 nonprofits that provide civil legal services for Texas veterans
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) has announced grants, totaling more than $3.5 million, to 15 nonprofit organizations that will help fund legal aid services for Texas veterans. With these grants, public interest and pro bono lawyers will be able to provide legal representation to veterans with civil legal problems such as denial of benefits or disability, family law matters arising from deployment, and other issues that may arise due to a veteran’s absence from home during military service. Last year, TAJF grantees helped approximately 7,000 veterans obtain access to the justice system.
“Too often, servicemen and women return from duty to find benefits delayed, families struggling, jobs scarce, homes in foreclosure, and debt collectors at the door,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht said. “We thank the Legislature for providing the resources to ensure that when basic legal problems pressure veterans, legal aid will be available for help.”
The 84th Texas Legislature provided $3 million in funding for basic civil legal services for veterans and their families over the next two years. Also, the Texas Access to Justice Commission—through its Champions of Justice Gala—raised more than $400,000 in 2014 from law firms and corporate sponsors.
“With Texas having the second-highest population of veterans, it is essential that we provide legal services for those who have sacrificed so much for our country,” Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, the Court’s access to justice liaison, said. “Local legal aid programs for veterans are gateways to the justice system for many veterans and their families.”
The local organizations receiving grant awards for civil legal services to veterans and their families for 2015-17 are:
Austin Bar Foundation $127,800
“We thank the Supreme Court of Texas for making this request for funding that will help serve the legal needs of those who have served our country,” Richard L. Tate, chair of the board of directors of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, said.
TAJF has awarded more than $480 million since its inception in 1984. The organization collects and administers several funds, including Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA), Basic Civil Legal Services (filing fees, fees assessed to out-of-state attorneys practicing in Texas, and other public funding), crime victims’ funds and private donations.
Today, there are more than 5.8 million Texans who qualify for civil legal aid. Due to a lack of resources, less than 20 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income and poor Texans are being met. To be eligible for civil legal aid, an individual must earn no more than $14,713 a year. For a family of four, the annual household income cannot exceed $30,313.
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (www.teajf.org), created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the leading state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to more than 100,000 Texas families each year.
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