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For Immediate Release Contact: AoA Press Office
Friday, May 1, 2009 202-357-3507

AoA Enhances Legal and Aging Services through New National Legal Resource Center

Center helps protect the rights, financial security, and independence of seniors during tough financial times

Recognizing the challenges many older Americans are facing in today’s turbulent economic climate, Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging Edwin L. Walker has announced the establishment of the National Legal Resource Center (NLRC) to more effectively protect the rights, financial security, and independence of seniors most in need.

This $825,000 collaborative project funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) involves five national non-profit organizations known for their work in legal and aging services support who have teamed up to better help people in need. The purpose of the NLRC is to empower legal and aging services advocates with the resources necessary to provide high quality, free legal help to seniors who are facing direct threats to their ability to live independently in their homes and communities.

“For far too many older Americans, the economic challenges of today are becoming the legal problems of tomorrow," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Many older Americans are facing daunting personal crises that are threatening their financial security. We have an obligation to help our most vulnerable citizens. The National Legal Resource Center will ensure that our nation's aging and legal services networks have the tools they need to help those in our communities who are least able to advocate on their own behalf.”

Challenges faced by seniors can include the tragic loss of their lifetime homes through foreclosure, consumer scams that destroy nest eggs and steal identities, and difficulties in accessing public benefits essential to remaining financially secure, independent, and healthy.

“More so now than in previous years, it is clear that legal services can help overcome some serious challenges faced by seniors who wish to remain independent in their homes and communities,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Walker. “This collaboration complements the Obama Administration’s efforts to help people in need, and provides legal and aging services advocates with additional support to assist vulnerable seniors.”

The NLRC organizations include:

For more than 20 years, these organizations have operated independently providing assistance to low-income seniors and their providers around the country. Now, to address the complexities presented by the current economic situation, the NLRC partners will together provide more intensive case consultation and specialized training on emerging legal issues that are adversely impacting the lives of seniors. With this vital support, advocates and professionals in aging and law will be able to serve senior consumers and clients more effectively. State offices on aging and local community-based aging organizations can also receive technical assistance in the efficient, cost-effective and targeted provision of legal services so essential during these hard economic times.

The NLRC will introduce a new Website in November 2009 through which direct assistance and informational resources can be accessed. More information on the National Legal Resource Center is available by contacting Omar.Valverde@aoa.hhs.gov.

More information about the services and programs of the U.S. Administration on Aging can be found at www.aoa.gov.