Jacksonville City Council finds $66K to make up shortfall in Article V funding for legal aid
With Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) facing a loss of $66,000 in Article V funding from its share of a criminal court surcharge, the Jacksonville City Council identified an equal amount from elsewhere in the budget in order to avoid cuts to JALA’s services to the community.
The council found the funds after JALA CEO Jim Kowalski met with its finance committee to explain the importance of the funding to JALA’s work in housing stability and other areas important to the city. These non-taxpayer funds, based on a surcharge on criminal defendants, are steadily decreasing throughout the state, according to Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, noting Jacksonville does not provide any general support for civil legal aid, “making Article V funds increasing critical.”
Councilmember Joyce Morgan pursued the issue until a solution was found.
“We’re very appreciative of Councilmember Morgan for understanding the decrease in funding from fines and fees and how critical that is for JALA’s general support,” Kowalski said. “We thank her for locating an alternative source in the Council contingency fund so we don’t have this significant drop over one year,”
“And we appreciate the Jacksonville City Council for recognizing the central role JALA plays when it comes to housing and homelessness and the other critical issues we work on,” Kowalski said. “We look forward to future funding from the city so that we can continue to meet the community’s needs.”
The decline in Article V funding from 2021 to 2022 represented 34% of JALA’s total Article V funding of $194,001.25 in 2021, according to Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
JALA handled nearly 7,000 civil legal aid cases in 2021 involving more than 16,000 individuals and family members. Its services cover a range of issues from consumer protection to disability rights to family law, but by far the largest number of 2021 cases – 2,762 – involved housing stability. JALA also advised more than 3,500 people through its free legal clinics and obtained more than $750,000 in family support for domestic violence survivors and others.
More information about JALA’s impact on the community is available in its 2021 Annual Report.