NHLA Statement on Governor Sununu's 2023 BudgetPosted Feb 14, 2023
Statement from Sarah Mattson Dustin, Executive Director of New Hampshire Legal Assistance
The Governor’s budget, released today, includes $2,250,000 per year in civil legal aid funding for New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA). NHLA provides civil legal aid related to our clients’ most basic needs, with a primary focus on housing, access to public benefits, and domestic violence. The Governor’s budget represents an additional $750,000 per year to support expanding civil legal aid for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking in civil protective order and family law cases.
Right now, less than 15% of domestic violence survivors have legal representation at their protective order hearings. For stalking survivors, the representation rate hovers around 5%. Every week, NHLA must turn away survivors with urgent legal needs because we simply do not have enough advocates to handle their cases.
NHLA works to reduce this unmet need from every angle – for example through our efforts to allow court representation by paralegal advocates and our court-based domestic violence “clinic” in Manchester. This additional funding would be transformational for NHLA’s ability to provide lifesaving assistance to survivors and their children. NHLA thanks the Governor for recognizing the value of civil legal aid.