$2.5 million more going to help poor Pennsylvanians with legal needs

    Legal aid for Pennsylvania’s poor and disadvantaged will get more funding under a measure recently signed by Gov. Tom Corbett.

    Court fees are slated to increase in order to set aside more money to help eligible low-income Pennsylvanians pay their legal bills.

    Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, explained legal aid as providing services in a targeted way for people who can’t otherwise afford to do things such as pursue federal benefits or adjust their mortgage payments.

    “We provide the legal services for basic human needs, like housing and health and safety, like protection from abuse actions, and child custody,” he said.

    And there’s return on the investment when the commonwealth ensures financial aid to disadvantaged people, Greenleaf said.

    “It’s a good investment, it saves lives, it deals with issues that I think anyone who heard the facts of those cases would say, ‘Yeah, we should provide assistance for that person, for that particular need,”” he said.

    The issue of a civil “justice gap” has been kicked around in Pennsylvania for decades.

    This year, an expert panel recommended the legislature boost civil legal services funding by $50 million.

    The latest move to increase court filing fees is expected to yield just under $2.5 million more for legal aid.

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