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Read this newletter to the end for an unexpected and completely unrelated Special Surprise.

January 18, 2024

Tenant Advocacy Day

Dozens of community advocates, justice partners, and rental housing tenants gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday to discuss the impact of pending housing-related legislature in the current General Assembly session. They also opened dialogues with the key legislators debating the issues throughout the session. 

VPLC's Housing Advocacy team is supporting a variety of issues including requiring landlords to allow tenants owing no more than a month's rent (+ late fees) to offer a payment plan before filing an eviction lawsuit. Other bills would extend the time a tenant can pay rent from five to 14 days before eviction proceedings begin, and help residents of mobile home communities avoid eviction by capping late lot rent fees.

From left to right: Victoria Horrock, Legal Aid Justice Center; Syleethia Carr, PHAR; Touri Goode, Equal Justice Works; DeAnna Smith, tenant advocate; Pastor Rodney HunterWesley Memorial United Methodist Church. They are just a handful of partners  for Tenant Advocacy Day


Untangling VEC Overpayments

Unemployment insurance can sometimes feel more like a tangled web than a safety net. Some claimants even remain ensnared in Virginia’s unemployment insurance system long after their claim ends. 

For a state like Virginia with one the worst overpayment rates in the country, this amounts to a lot of money that the state cannot afford to waste. 

Virginia should look to other states for a possible solution.


Shutting Down Shut-Offs

Lower-income households spend more of their money on energy bills than any other income group. Still, only 30% of eligible Virginia households actually receive the energy assistance they need.

In addition to health and safety risks, the financial cost of shutoffs can be substantial. Some households must choose between buying groceries, medication, or paying the heating bill.


Vital Minimum Wage Increase

A proposal to incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage from $12 to $15 hourly advanced through a Senate committee this week.

The legislation, carried by Sen. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, may fare well in both chambers, as Democrats now control both the Senate and House of Delegates.

To Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Raise the Minimum Wage

"At the time of his assassination, Dr. King was fighting to secure better pay for Black sanitation employees. It was their two-month strike that brought him to Memphis in April 1968. The $2 minimum wage he called for in 1963 would be worth over $18 today. To ignore Dr. King’s unwavering conviction that economic rights are integral to racial justice is to ignore a critical part of his advocacy. It’s time we honor Dr. King’s legacy. It’s time to raise the minimum wage."  -- Senator John Kane, Op-Ed  (read the full text here)


In Our Next Issue: Reform Virginia's Child Welfare System

Virginia is among the worst three states annually for children aging out of foster care. Children in the Commonwealth are suffering because of misguided policies, over-surveillance of certain families, lack of access and resources, and Virginia's poor permanency rates.

The Virginia General Assembly has considered this issue multiple times in the past eight years, never reaching a solution. In our next newsletter, we'll spell it out as part of The Virginia Family Preservation Project, a joint effort of VPLC and Legal Aid Justice Center.

Virginia can do better.


Here's that special surprise we promised.

We know that many of our readers are doing their own unique part to fight poverty and injustice. Often that can mean carrying the weight of the world (or at least Virginia) on your shoulders. This is a good time to give yourself ten seconds of self-care, provided by golden retriever Sam the dog.  His mom, attorney Sarah Morton, heads VPLC's Senior Legal Helpline, and recommends just staring at this sweet face for a bit, and see what happens!

One Mississippi...

Two Mississippi...

At only nine-weeks old, Sam Morton is practically a guru.

Virginia Poverty Law Center
919 East Main St Suite 610 | Richmond, Virginia 23219
804-782-9430 | info@vplc.org
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