Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) is committed to leading and coordinating efforts to seek justice in civil legal matters for lower-income Virginians.
Established in 1978 to advocate on behalf of low-income Virginians on poverty issues of statewide importance, VPLC is the only statewide organization providing training to local Legal Aid program staff, private bar attorneys, and low-income clients, relating exclusively to the legal rights of Virginia’s poor.
VPLC also assists low-income Virginians and Legal Aid programs with legislative and administrative proposals affecting the poor in Virginia as well as providing technical assistance, training and publications to Virginia’s Legal Aid programs in the following substantive areas: consumer law, domestic and sexual violence law, elder law, family law, health law, housing law and public benefits law.
From the beginning, VPLC has been a clearinghouse of information on issues of poverty law. VPLC’s annual statewide Legal Aid conference, new lawyer training, regular task force meetings and listservs continue to provide a foundation for the delivery of quality legal services in Virginia. With expertise not found elsewhere, VPLC staff provide leadership on advocacy efforts in the courts, legislative and administrative agencies, often coordinating and collaborating with other groups and organizations across the commonwealth.
Some of VPLC’s most significant work has come through its work in the Virginia General Assembly. Advocating for bills that would benefit low-income residents of the commonwealth and fighting those that would be a step backward, VPLC has made strides in helping protect the rights of those that need it the most in Virginia.
While fighting for the rights of Virginia’s low-income residents in the legislature is one of VPLC’s major priorities, the projects it works on in the community bring to light those who VPLC seeks to help most.
To show its commitment to those it serves, in 2008 VPLC along with a coalition of partners, sponsored “Voices for Change”, an art competition that invited youth in foster care between the ages of 12-21 to express their views about the foster care system through art, writing and photography. The competition was very well-received, with youth from around Virginia contributing their thoughts on the foster care system through a variety of mediums.
“Through Different Eyes: The Faces of Poverty in Virginia” was yet another project that sought to get to the heart of those who are most impacted by the work of VPLC. In 2005, photographers from the commonwealth submitted their interpretations of poverty and while many of the images were a realistic portrayal of the struggles people endure on a day-to-day basis, others portrayed a lighter side to the challenges that men, women and children in poverty face. From the striking image of Daisy in her “Sunday Best” to the intimate portrait of Sergeant Johnnie Tyson, “Through Different Eyes: The Faces of Poverty in Virginia” was, and continues to be, a traveling photo exhibit that is a constant reminder of the importance of VPLC in advocating on behalf of those that need it most.
For over three decades, VPLC has consistently adhered to one mission: to provide leadership, support, training, public education and advocacy to address the civil legal needs of Virginia’s low-income population. To fight for the poor is, unfortunately, a battle that will not disappear in the near future, but with organizations such as VPLC tirelessly working on behalf of the less fortunate, the rights and services provided to this population will continue to be protected.