Eric Avildsen, Legal Aid's executive director, has spent time at the Statehouse recently lobbying for additional money.
Those efforts are touch-and-go, he
The alternative, he
said, is downsizing or shifting resources away from other projects.
said Legal Aid projects have been level-funded in the governor's budget over several administrations without annual adjustments for rising costs or the expanded scope of some projects.
The Foreclosure Defense Project, the Long-term Care Ombudsman's
office and the Office of the Health Care Advocate would all need to be scaled back without additional money, Avildsen
It makes economic sense for the state to continue to pay for the project, because when people lose their homes they typically require public assistance that would ultimately create a larger burden for the state, Avildsen
For both the Long-term Care Ombudsman
and the Office of the Health Care Advocate, the scope of work has grown without consistent funding sources to defray the increased cost.
Vermont receives federal money that it is required to spend on advocating for the interests of seniors in nursing homes and residential living facilities, and it contracts with Legal Aid
to do that work.
The contract has gone to bid several times, and it has been awarded to Legal Aid
each time - with the organization often as the sole bidder - Avildsen
The number of long-term care patients has increased and grant money from the state has not kept pace, he