FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2020
Contact: Adele McClure, Executive Director
Phone: (804) 876-0221
VLBC Statement on Announcement of the Expansion of Legal Aid Services for Virginians Facing Eviction
Richmond, VA—With thousands of Virginians facing the risk of eviction, the Governor’s announcement of $4 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia is a much-needed investment and step in the right direction towards keeping Virginians housed and preventing evictions in the Commonwealth. This public-private partnership with the IKEA U.S. Community Foundation will help to keep many Virginians in their homes and protected from eviction and housing instability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Affordable housing for all Virginians is essential to building an equitable economy,” said House Appropriations Chairman Del. Luke Torian (D-52nd, Prince William). “During the pandemic the need for housing is essential to our public health response. With today’s announcement, Virginia is ensuring that we bolster our commitment to reducing evictions and keeping families safe in our homes. This funding to legal aid will help to ensure that families have fair representation when they are facing an eviction proceeding.”
“I commend my colleagues in the General Assembly, the Governor, and IKEA for this important and meaningful partnership to help keep Virginians housed and in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) Chairman Del. Lamont Bagby (D-74th, Henrico). “Expanding the accessibility of legal support is key to protecting tenant rights and preventing evictions. It is a larger piece of a multi-faceted approach our Commonwealth should be adopting in order to address these underlying systemic issues related to evictions and housing."
“Without a home, a family cannot maintain their health, especially in a pandemic,” said President Pro Tempore Sen. Louise Lucas (D-18th, Portsmouth). “We are making strides to ensure our laws are more equitable but without legal representation in eviction cases, households are rarely able to successfully navigate the rights and responsibilities available to them.”
“Evictions are a traumatic experience for families. According to the RVA Eviction Lab, evictions also disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities regardless of income,” added Del. Torian. “The General Assembly and the Governor continue to make changes to the law to reduce evictions but these new protections require legal representation—so that both landlords and tenants know their rights and responsibilities. This is not a time for business as usual but a time to come together to keep people housed. I look forward to continuing to partner with the Governor, my colleagues in the General Assembly, and all Virginians to prioritize reducing evictions and creating more affordable housing so that all Virginians have a safe and affordable place to live.”
“I thank the attorneys at Legal Aid who have been dedicated to serving Virginians in their moments of crisis,” said Sen. Lucas. “Far too many Virginians are one paycheck, an unexpected medical bill, or an unexpected car repair away from losing their home.”
“With Black and Brown people being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and evictions, we must ensure that these inequities aren’t being exacerbated by evictions occurring in the middle of a global health crisis,” Chairman Bagby said. “Housing should be treated as a fundamental human right and we have a ways to go to correct the injustices and inequities of the past and present.”
The VLBC looks forward to continuing to partner with our colleagues in the General Assembly, the Governor, and advocates to support and champion more housing protections and relief such as Special Session bills HB 5111 & HB 5106 (Cole), HB 5064 & HB 5115 (Price), HB 5117 (Aird)/SB 5118 (McClellan), and other measures to keep families safe in their homes.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) is made up of 23 members in the Virginia General Assembly. VLBC is committed to improving the economic, educational, political, and social conditions of African Americans and underrepresented groups in Virginia. A vital part of VLBC’s mission is to raise the consciousness of other groups to the contributions made by African Americans to the Commonwealth and the Nation.
Address: P.O. Box 15512, Richmond, VA 23227 | Website: www.VABlackCaucus.com
Email: VLBC10@gmail.com | Twitter/Facebook: @VABlackCaucus | Phone: 804-876-0221