The Maryland Access to Justice Commission has just released a Report detailing economic benefits to the state of legal aid.
As detailed in the press release, the benefits are as follows:
- Brought $9.9 million in federal dollars into Maryland to benefit state residents. Those dollars translated into at least $12.6 million in economic stimulus for local economies.
- Obtained $10.7 million in other direct financial benefits for Maryland residents.
- Secured $161 million as a result of systemic advocacy on behalf of tenants at risk of eviction, vulnerable homeowners and low-income persons in need of emergency assistance.
- Resulted in at least $882,096 in tax revenue by keeping Marylanders in the workforce.
- Saved at least $3.7 million in state expenditures on shelter costs alone by preventing homelessness.
- Saved at least $1.3 million in health costs and productivity by preventing domestic violence.
However, from the point of view of advocates in other states, the Report may be most useful for the innovativeness of the techniques used to calculate the economic benefit. As a whole, the Report offers a template that other states could follow to generate a similar report with less effort — indeed, it would be wonderful if an LSC TIG grant could fund an online tool to generate estimates of economic impact from state caseload stats and other input data.
The basic methodology was to collect data on actual economic gains (benefits received for example, and then apply an appropriate multiplier to calculate full state economic benefit. Using a variety of techniques, these estimated the economic impact of law reform achieved. Finally, they calculated the revenue and expenditure savings from keeping people in jobs and reducing domestic violence.
Here are some of the more interesting techniques/tools used:
- Use of multipliers calculated by others to show the full impact of various benefits obtained. The cites to those multipliers are particularly helpful (see page 5.) Multipliers vary from 2.23 in the health area, to 0.7 for federal housing benefits.
- Taking number of foreclosure-evictions and calculated impact on total tenancies, and value of tenancies, based on number of such evictions, and change in law granting delay.
- Estimated total value of increases in benefits from decision requiring timely decisions on applications.
- Estimating value of reduced domestic violence by extrapolating from prior studies on lesser violent incidents against those with orders, and estimated medical cost of such victimization. Adding estimate of productivity loss from reduction of victimization.
Thanks for the kudos, Richard, but we did follow our sister commissions in Massachusetts, Illinois, New York and a number of other states in the use of our model. The kudos really belong to them. I also have to say our providers went the extra mile to provide data. Maryland Legal Aid combed their records for direct financial benefits to their clients, an effort that involved every office in the state. And others provided good information as well.