N.C. Legal Aid Cuts Back Specifically on Services to Rural Populations

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August 8, 2011; Source: Newsobserver.com | Legal Aid of North Carolina is cutting back on staff and offices in order to adjust to budget cuts amounting to 10% or $2 million of a $20 million budget. In pursuit of this LANC has decided to close a number of rural offices in Smithfield, Boone and Henderson. Says Executive Director, George Hausen, “We serve poor people, and in the rural areas we have to travel a much greater distance to serve fewer people,” Hausen said. “In order to keep the numbers high and serve as many poor people as we possibly could we decided that we needed to circle the wagons in the big, urban offices.” This may not be the last or biggest cut the organization sustains this year since the legislature is considering an additional 26% cut. One wonders at a strategy that excludes people from needed representation based purely on their status as rural residents but it is clear that many of these critical legal aid organizations, more badly needed than ever, are in an untenable position. – Ruth McCambridge