Northam announces new funding for renters’ legal services

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday a new $4 million initiative to help cover the legal costs of renters facing evictions.

Northam said furniture giant IKEA was donating $2 million for the effort, which will pay for 20 legal aid attorneys during the next two years. The governor said the funding is critical to help the state’s poor amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The state is matching the grant with $2 million from revenue generated by so-called “gray machines” that look and play like slot machines and have proliferated in bars and convenience stores in recent years.

The money will go to the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia, which oversees regional legal aid programs geared toward providing legal services to the poor.

Lawmakers are currently considering a proposal by Northam to ban evictions until May.

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