Spotlight on Title III Services: Legal Advocacy for Older Americans Project

Founded in 1909, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) is the oldest legal aid provider in the state. SMRLS, through a diverse, respectful and fair working environment, and legal assistance and community education activities, promotes and respects the dignity of low-income persons and seeks new and effective solutions to the critical and common legal problems of low-income persons which arise in a broad community context.

MNRAAA awards SMRLS federal Title III-B Older Americans Act funds for the Legal Advocacy for Older Americans Project (LAOAP). Through this project, SMRLS represents people 60 years or older with a focus on those in greatest social and economic need. Although SMRLS does not apply a means test for representing older adults, they direct their representation to those most in need.

“SMRLS is an organization committed to equal justice under the law”, states Ray Beckel, staff attorney in the Mankato SMRLS office. “The primary service areas for SMRLS Legal Advocacy for Older Americans Project are helping to protect the elderly from abuse, helping them to get the financial, medical and food support that they need, and helping low income elderly people to obtain the housing, protections and services they need to live a comfortable and healthy life without undue or inordinate stress.”

Because SMRLS does not cover all 27 counties in the MNRAAA service area, they sub-contract with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) for LAOAP services in Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Renville, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties. People residing in these counties can contact MMLA at 888.360.3666. For those residing in the remaining 17 MNRAAA counties call SMRLS at 888.575.2954.

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