Legal Services of South Central Michigan
August 19, 2014
LSSCM provides free civil legal assistance to low-income persons with emphasis on homelessness prevention, domestic violence prevention and assisting in accessing health care, food, and needs-based income programs.
The “Legal Services to Very Low Income Individuals and Families” program provides free civil legal assistance to very low income individuals and their families with an emphasis on homelessness prevention, domestic violence prevention, and assisting in accessing healthcare, food, and needs-based income programs in Jackson County. The work in this program aligns with the outcome of meeting basic needs by providing a full range of legal services to families facing these critical issues with counsel and advice, referral to other appropriate agencies, document preparation, assistance in negotiations, and full representation in court and at administrative hearings to remedy a crisis situation. During this period, LSSCM handled 414 cases, assisting 998 total individuals. Families receiving legal assistance through LSSCM experience an 86% success rate. Success in these cases covers a wide variety of outcomes including preventing homelessness or relocation altogether, extending the time a family may stay in a residence, stopping the abuse cycle through a divorce and/or custody action, and preventing wrongful terminations of medical, food, and needs-based disability assistance. Ability to handle these cases greatly contributes to a stable home and family environment and/or prevents loss of much needed benefits to sustain a stable home environment for these vulnerable individuals.
The story of Mr. Brown is just one of many success stories from LSSCM. Mr. Brown was a disabled, single father of two children who lived in a subsidized housing complex which enabled him to pay reduced rent based on his income. Mr. Brown’s landlord filed an eviction case with unsubstantiated allegations in an attempt to remove Mr. Brown and his family from their home. LSSCM provided legal representation and was able to get the matter dismissed. In the meantime, Mr. Brown decided he would rather move to a new, peaceful home with his family but the landlord filed another eviction case in retaliation seeking to again remove Mr. Brown and his family. The new case would have jeopardized Mr. Brown’s future eligibility for subsidized housing (which was the only type of affordable housing for Mr. Brown’s family) at a new facility. LSSCM provided legal assistance a second time and removed the threat of eviction, overseeing Mr. Brown’s admission to the new, safe, and affordable facility where he and his family now live.