L-R Steve Gottlieb and Phyllis Holmen.
L-R Steve Gottlieb and Phyllis Holmen. ()

Despite the return of funds for the current fiscal year over the weekend in Washington, the legal aid funding problem looms, key players in that arena said Wednesday.

“The crisis is not averted. Quite the contrary,” said Steve Gottlieb, executive director of Atlanta Legal Aid. “We will see all summer about what happens the next year.”

The spending agreement Congress brokered retains $385 million for Legal Services Corp., the national organization that funds services for low income, disabled and senior citizens. That measure restores the current year’s funding at budgeted levels.

“Having said that, the budget the president proposed [for 2018] has no money in it for the Legal Services Corp,” Gottlieb said. That’s the source of 40 percent of Atlanta Legal Aid’s funding and more than half the funding for its statewide counterpart, Georgia Legal Services.

Phyllis Holmen, executive director of Georgia Legal Services, made the same point as Gottlieb. But she took a moment to celebrate a small victory.

“This is certainly an outcome that we were afraid we would not get at all,” she said of the return of the current year’s funding. “One thing that really pleases me is the depth of support displayed.”

Holmen pointed to the power of hundreds of letters sent to Congress and federal budget writers by deans of law schools and heads of corporations.

“A lot of people and a lot of entities wrote letters,” she said.

Holmen and Gottlieb said they are pursuing other sources of funding while they wait to see what happens next in Washington.