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CLA receives funding to provide free civil legal services for area crime victims

CLA receives funding to provide free civil legal services for area crime victims

WORCESTER—Community Legal Aid (CLA) announces today that it has received a grant of $576,273 each year for two years to provide civil legal services to crime victims residing in Central and Western Massachusetts. 

CLA attorneys hired with this funding will specialize in the legal needs of  victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse—as well as victims of non-violent crimes like fraud, financial abuse, or theft. Services are free and accessible to children, elders, non-English speakers, and people with disabilities. Referrals are also made to other social service providers to meet each client’s individual and long-term safety needs. 

Victims of crime are often left with significant legal needs beyond those addressed in the criminal justice system. For example, victims of domestic violence may need civil legal assistance with child custody, divorce, or access to stable housing. Other civil legal needs that may arise in the aftermath of a crime include access to healthcare and other benefits and assistance with issues related to immigration,  education, employment, and debt collection. 

Community Legal Aid is the free legal services provider assisting low-income and elderly residents of Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties. Through its advocacy in over 5,000 cases each year, CLA helps people obtain safe housing; access disability, unemployment, and other benefits; receive services needed to succeed in school; and break free from abuse and exploitation.

The initiative is supported by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance through a Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and will be administered by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI).

“Impacts of crime affect every aspect of a victim’s life which can require civil legal remedies to achieve long-term safety and stability,” said Liam Lowney, MOVA’s Executive Director. “This funding bolsters MLAC’s existing network of regional legal aid organizations to provide services to victims in or around their hometown. In addition to civil legal services, victims can also receive referrals to other area providers who can assist with other rehabilitation and recovery needs. We are thrilled to partner with MLAC and MLRI to provide these critical services to better serve crime victims throughout Massachusetts.”

Jonathan Mannina, CLA’s Executive Director, is grateful for MOVA’s support. “ We are excited to be a part of this wonderful new initiative,” Attorney Mannina says. “The funding will help us address gaps in our services to victims of crime, and will enable us to provide holistic and effective legal help to some of our community’s most vulnerable families and individuals.”

To learn more or to access services, please call 508-752-3718 or visit communitylegal.org. For more information about the statewide crime victim project, please see www.massclavc.org.