Ikea, state pledge $4M for eviction legal assistance
Funds will support 20 Legal Aid attorneys for the next two years
Gov. Ralph Northam announced a $4 million fund Monday that will support 20 Legal Aid attorneys in defending Virginia tenants facing eviction over the next two years.
The Ikea U.S. Community Foundation pledged $2 million, based on the unemployment funds its retail workers in Virginia received earlier in the year, and the state’s COVID-19 Relief Fund will match the donation. The funds will go to the Legal Services Corp. of Virginia, which oversees nine Legal Aid Society offices across the state and the Virginia Poverty Law Center.
In April, the General Assembly approved the COVID-19 Relief Fund, funded with profits from electronic skill machines, which were set to be banned before the pandemic. However, tax revenue from the machines is now collected by the Virginia Lottery, with proceeds assisting small businesses, out-of-work Virginians and people at risk of eviction. The ban on so-called “gray machines” will take effect next July, Northam has pledged.
Ikea has two furniture and house wares stores in Woodbridge and Norfolk, where it employs about 550, and it recently left Pittsylvania County, where it employed about 300 people in its manufacturing plant. In December, Morgan Olson LLC, a step-van manufacturer, purchased and renovated the former Ikea plant.
“We are appreciative of the ongoing support from the commonwealth of Virginia, including the unemployment funds paid to our coworkers who were furloughed in the early weeks of the pandemic,” Ikea Retail U.S. President Javier Quiñones said in a statement. “People are the heart of our business, and these unemployment benefits helped Ikea U.S. coworkers during a difficult time. We now have a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our business, and we’ve decided to pay it forward to support the ongoing relief efforts in our local communities.”