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Recession Slashes Legal Aid For Low-Income Residents Of D.C.

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By Rebecca Sheir

A new report suggests funding cuts could prevent 2,000 low-income residents in D.C. from receiving legal aid.

When the bank took over Marina Amaya's house in Northwest D.C., she turned to the Legal Aid Society, a local non-profit.

"Without this help," the native Spanish speaker says through a translator, "not only would I have been a victim, but many other people would also be victims of what's happening with the banks."

Peter Edelman chairs the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, which co-authored the report. He says funding for programs like the Legal Aid Society is down 25 percent, while demand for their services is up.

"We get funding from law firms, lawyers and city council," says Edelman. "In all three areas we have reductions, and so people that are coming can't get help!"

As Mayor Adrian Fenty considers next year's budget, Edelman hopes he'll remember legal assistance providers and their clients.

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