Analysis Group Contributes Economic Impact Study on Homelessness to Task Force on Civil Legal Aid

October 21, 2014

Increased funding by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to civil legal aid agencies to support eligible low-income citizens can provide additional access to legal representation and offer long-term cost savings to society, according to a report released by the Boston Bar Association's (BBA) Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts. The report, "Investing in Justice: A Roadmap to Cost-Effective Funding of Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts," studied the state of civil legal aid in the Commonwealth for 18 months and found that nearly two-thirds of people who qualify for civil legal assistance were turned away by legal aid organizations due to a lack of funding. The report also offers recommendations to increase legal aid funding and outlines the related benefits to taxpayers.

To inform its report, the task force enlisted a team from Analysis Group to conduct an economic impact study on state expenditures in civil legal aid representation in eviction and foreclosure cases. The pro bono report -- conducted by President and CEO Martha Samuelson, Vice Presidents Brian Ellman and Nikita Piankov, and Senior Analyst Isabelle Bensimon -- found that "by providing civil legal aid in eviction and foreclosure matters, the Commonwealth ultimately saves on the costs associated with homelessness, including emergency housing and shelter, as well as increased health care, foster care, and police costs. Specifically, we find that for every dollar spent on civil legal aid in eviction and foreclosure cases, the Commonwealth ultimately saves approximately $2.69 on the costs associated with homelessness." The authors note that these estimates are likely conservative because the study took into account only families or individuals likely to enter a homeless shelter and did not include those who seek alternate housing arrangements.

Analysis Group was recognized, along with members of the task force, with the BBA President's Award at the BBA 2014 Annual Meeting Luncheon in Boston on September 12, 2014. The report was cited in a New York Times article, "A Push for Legal Aid in Civil Cases Finds Its Advocates" (November 21, 2014), which noted that the BBA task force, like other recent initiatives in California and New York, aims to document the savings that funding for housing court and civil legal aid could generate in other, related services. 

Read the report

Read more about the President's Award

Read the New York Times article