BY ANNE CAYWOOD
Seven out of 10 low-income households in South Carolina will face a legal problem, according to a recent report from the SC Access to Justice Commission.
What do these legal problems look like? A woman in her 30s dealing with custody issues and collecting unpaid child support.
A woman in her mid-40s trying desperately to escape an abusive relationship and securing a safe environment for her and her children.
A hard-working couple with two small children now facing eviction from their home because they’re behind on rent.
Here are a few more numbers that illustrate how desperately legal representation is needed for low-income individuals in our service area:
- 99.7%: The percentage of people who were unrepresented when they faced eviction from their homes.
- Over 42%: The number of women who face intimate partner violence in their lifetime if they live in South Carolina.
To help those who may otherwise struggle in silence, Lowcountry Legal Volunteers, a non-profit organization, offers skilled legal services.
Our clients are more than just numbers and statistics. They are real people.
They are our friends, our neighbors, and our colleagues. They are the friendly cashier at your local grocery store.
Last year alone, Lowcountry Legal Volunteers made the following contributions:
- Provided more than $2 million in free legal services.
- Assisted more than 200 people during 16 rent-assistance and wills clinics.
- Contributed more than 900 volunteer hours by retired attorneys and administrative professionals.
- Closed 144 cases that helped almost 1,000 low-income community members and their families.
Lowcountry Legal Volunteers has been helping the community for more than 20 years. Local attorneys Keri Olivetti and Maureen Coffey began the nonprofit to provide equal access to justice for people in Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties living at- or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Since being founded, Lowcountry Legal Volunteers’ dedicated staff and volunteers have assisted generations of families.
The mission continues today with an emphasis on providing quality and caring family legal services, zealous defense of eviction matters and guidance in applying for the current rent-assistance money available through the SC Housing Stayplus Program. This includes the drafting and counseling of local individuals who need a simple will and/ or health care power of attorney.
This is accomplished with the help of volunteers, grantors and community members whose donations provide access to justice we’re all entitled to. We invite you to be a part of the solution and help us continue to create a lasting impact across the Lowcountry for all those we serve.
Anne Caywood is Executive Director of Lowcountry Legal Volunteers