RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Poverty Law Center received a $750,000 donation from Amazon to help expand their Eviction Legal Helpline. With the continuing pandemic and already high eviction rates in Virginia this money will help VPLC protect families and individuals facing evictions.
Of the U.S. cities with the highest eviction rates, Virginia is home to half of the top 10 large cities and three of the top five mid-sized cities.
“Across Virginia and the nation, residential tenants are understandably confused about the constantly changing eviction protections put in place during this pandemic and afraid of ending up homeless and vulnerable to COVID-19,” said Christie Marra, Director of Housing Advocacy at VPLC. “Amazon’s generous donation enables us to expand our Eviction Legal Helpline so that more Virginia tenants can get free legal advice and referrals to attorneys and rental assistance during this difficult time.”
VPLC says the money will be used to hire a bilingual attorney to handle an increase in eviction cases. The Eviction Legal Helpline is currently staffed by a bilingual attorney and bilingual paralegal as well as volunteers. The bilingual staff members speak both English and Spanish.
The new attorney will focus on working with Virginia’s mobile home park communities. These families typically only own their homes and not the land their homes are on. VPLC says mobile home owners are at risk of eviction from the park and losing their home.
VPLC says that adding an attorney will help with the increased number of evictions they expect to see when rental assistance funds run out and pandemic eviction protections end.
Amazon also made donations to as Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Bread for the City’s Legal Clinic, and Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
“Families are facing innumerable challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Amazon continues to work with our HQ2 community to understand the pressing issues facing our neighbors,” said Alice Shobe, Director, Amazon in the Community. “Tenant rights are a particularly complicated issue right now and this latest $3 million donation to these four agencies will quickly provide support to individuals and families who immediately need help.”
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