Legal Aid, ABLE get funds for new home


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) announced a $712,500 federal contribution Monday to help pay for new headquarters for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. and Legal Aid of Western Ohio Inc.

The publicly funded agencies that provide legal representation to low-income people moved over the weekend from the Spitzer Building at 520 Madison Ave. to the newly renovated five-story former Western Union Building a few blocks away at 525 Jefferson Ave. and opened for business Monday.

The Center for Equal Justice oversees eight offices in 32 Ohio counties and houses 91 employees, including 40 lawyers. Its territory stretches to Dayton, Mansfield, and Sandusky.

The renovation cost $6.6 million, most of which was funded through private contributions, said Joseph Tafelski, executive director of ABLE.

Senator Brown, who toured the building and met staff yesterday, said the federal contribution was an "earmark" in the federal budget for 2009. Senator Brown has endorsed an increase in the federal Legal Services budget from $390 million in the current year to $435 million in 2010.

"President Obama believes in the mission of Legal Services," Senator Brown said. "No guarantees what's going to happen."