Legal Services of South Central Michigan receives grants

 Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM) has been awarded several grants from local funders to continue the important programs to provide access to justice to low income residents of Jackson County. 

LSSCM was awarded a two-year, $70,000 grant from the Weatherwax Foundation for its Homeless Prevention Program and an 18-month, $59,000 grant from United Way of Jackson County for its Legal Services to Very Low Income Individuals and Families Program. LSSCM was also awarded a $35,000 grant from United Way of Jackson County and a $16,000 grant from the Jackson Community Foundation’s Unrestricted Community Needs Endowment Fund for its Mediation/Eviction Diversion Program. All funds will be utilized in Jackson County. 
LSSCM represents individuals with nowhere else to turn for free civil legal assistance, and provides free civil legal representation to low income persons with an emphasis on homelessness prevention, domestic violence prevention, and assistance in accessing health care, food, and needs-based income programs. Funding from the Weatherwax Foundation will be used to represent tenants facing eviction in district court and to represent homeowners facing mortgage and property tax foreclosures. Funds from the Jackson County United Way for LSSCM’s Legal Services to Very Low Income Individuals and Families Program will enable LSSCM attorneys to provide a full range of legal services to eligible clients in its priority areas. 
The Mediation/Eviction Diversion program is a collaboration between LSSCM, Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services (SDRS) and the Jackson County District Court. The grant funds will allow LSSCM to subcontract with SDRS, which provides mediation for low-income individuals facing eviction, when appropriate. This collaboration allows each partner to use its expertise and focus resources so more families are able to receive assistance.  
Erica Zimny, managing attorney of LSSCM’s Jackson office, is excited about the local resources to serve clients, as well as the continued collaboration of the District Court and SDRS. “If we can prevent a family from becoming homeless, it is less costly for our community and so important to the family,” she said.
“LSSCM has demonstrated success in preventing homelessness through civil legal representation in housing, income, and domestic violence cases,” said Richard Mills, Jackson attorney and LSSCM Board member. “We are very grateful for these grants that help LSSCM achieve positive outcomes for more families in Jackson County.” 
LSSCM was originally established in 1965 and is now the primary legal services provider in 13 counties in south and central Michigan. The Jackson office serves Jackson and Hillsdale Counties, and in addition to this funding, receives support from the Legal Services Corporation, the Michigan State Bar Foundation, the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, the Jackson County Treasurer and the Region II Area Agency on Aging. Beyond representation in individual cases, LSSCM is part of a network of agencies providing services to the community’s most vulnerable members, and is a division of the Michigan Advocacy Program. For more information, visit www.lsscm.org.