04 Mar, 2024
1 min read

Report: Connecticut legal aid saved state millions | Connecticut

(The Center Square) — Connecticut saved taxpayers millions of dollars through a pandemic-related program that provided legal representation to low-income tenants facing eviction, according to a new report.

The report on the state’s right-to-counsel program, prepared by the independent consulting firm Stout, found that by preventing evictions or helping tenants find new housing before they’re evicted likely saved Connecticut taxpayers between $5.8 and $6.3 million from the end of January to the end of November 2022.

The report’s authors wrote that the program helped save the state money it would have otherwise spent to provide emergency shelter services for families and individuals, child welfare, health care and education services.

Those costs included $2.5 million to $2.7 million in savings related to Medicaid spending; while another $1.1 million to $1.2 million came from housing safety net savings. Other savings come from the economic value of residency and prevent foster care placements, according to the report.

“People experiencing homelessness, including those experiencing homelessness because of eviction or disruptive displacement, often utilize in-patient and emergency room care more frequently than people who are stably housed,” the report‘s authors wrote.

The report’s authors say the estimated savings is likely “understated” because it doesn’t include an offset to costs for providing public benefits to people who lose their jobs after an eviction, among other expenses.

Connecticut created the right-to-counsel program last year with about $20 million in pandemic relief money, which is expected to keep it fully funded through 2024.

The program, which is open to low-income residents in specific ZIP codes and veterans, seeks to close a gap between the number of tenants and landlords who have legal representation in crime cases.

The Connecticut Bar Foundation, which is overseeing the initiative, said the number of tenants with legal representation increased by

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