The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has announced a grant allocation of $4,726,333 to the Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC) with the objective of providing legal assistance to individuals of limited means who have been impacted by natural disasters during the year 2022.

ALSC is among the 14 selected organizations across the nation that have been chosen to receive these grants. LSC, renowned as the principal source of financial support for civil legal aid within the United States, has been granted $20 million in supplementary funding through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which was passed by Congress to bolster the comprehensive response to natural calamities.

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Following severe climatic events, affected individuals often find themselves in need of prompt legal aid to facilitate the application for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and insurance benefits. They also require assistance with matters involving landlords and tenants, accessing unemployment benefits, and procuring replacements for vital documents essential for education and medical benefits. Legal issues stemming from disasters can endure for extended periods. Cases entailing FEMA appeals, bankruptcy, public housing, and instances of domestic violence may arise, rendering disaster survivors susceptible to deceitful schemes and fraudulent activities.

LSC President Ron Flagg emphasized, "Disaster response entails far more than just physical repairs, as countless Americans come to realize each year when their homes or families are impacted by these catastrophic events. Legal aid providers play a pivotal role in aiding low-income families in accessing crucial services and resources that set them on the path to recovery."

The allocated funds will be employed by ALSC to establish a collaborative disaster relief resource hub and a training network geared toward aiding non-attorney community justice workers (CJWs) in responding to twelve instances of natural disasters in American Indian and Alaska Native communities served by ALSC, Montana Legal Services, Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Anishinabe Legal Services, and DNA People's Legal Services. ALSC will take the lead on the grant while other legal assistance organizations will function as subgrantees. The vulnerability of Alaska Native and American Indian communities to disasters is heightened due to their higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, and substandard housing in comparison to the rest of the nation. In the year 2022, a dozen major disasters were declared in the rural communities encompassed by the collaborating organizations.

The grant will facilitate the employment of fourteen full-time staff members for the initiative, in addition to the development of online training modules and support for the online training platform. The project aims to supply immediate legal services to affected communities by assembling a network of trained local CJWs specializing in disaster response.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola (D- AK, At-Large) expressed their appreciation to ALSC for securing the grant and for their pivotal role in disaster relief efforts.

"The aftermath of Typhoon Merbok inflicted significant damage on numerous communities, leaving many Alaskan families grappling with financial challenges, insurance claims, housing issues, and more. This grant from the Legal Services Corporation is a positive development for the survivors of Typhoon Merbok in Alaska. The funding will furnish them with legal aid as they continue to recover from the detrimental effects of the typhoon," stated Senator Murkowski.

"This grant designed to aid Typhoon Merbok survivors is heartening news. Merbok caused extensive damage amounting to millions of dollars in a region where resources are scarce and communication with federal agencies can be sluggish. Several Alaskans are still grappling with navigating the FEMA application and appeals processes, and this funding for legal assistance will significantly impact their lives. Alaska rallied to support the communities affected by the storm, and it remains crucial that we continue to do so until the damage is rectified," Rep. Peltola said.

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