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Corporate Charity Replaces Tax Dollars to Pay for Eviction Attorneys


Because of a big hit to tax revenue, Virginia officials have chosen to press hold on many funding priorities -- including $1.5-million for a program that provides legal aid to poor Virginians. But now that program will get the funding from a different source, a corporate donation. 


The Swedish furniture company IKEA is donating $2 million to the state. The state is matching the donation with another $2 million raised by taxing slot-like machines that have proliferated in corner stores across the state. 

Governor Ralph Northam says the donation will go towards hiring 20 new attorneys who will help Virginians facing an eviction. 

“Obviously there is no good time for a family to lose their home but a pandemic is the worst time,” Northam said during a press conference announcing the donation Monday. 

The attorneys will work for the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia, a group that supports and funds legal aid across the state. 

Even before the pandemic the 200 attorneys of the LSCV weren’t enough to meet the needs of low-income Virginians. At the press conference, state director Mark Braley says those lawyers work long hours for low pay. 

“I ask you to thank those dedicated and committed front line attorneys who have given their careers to serving the poor in Virginia,” he said to applause. 

Despite a current moratorium on eviction cases enacted by the Supreme Court, The Virginia Poverty Law Center estimates more than 200-thousand evictions could be filed by the end of the year. 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.
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