The Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic was awarded the grant by the West Virginia State Bar’s Interest On Lawyers Trust Accounts Legal Assistance Grants Committee.
The IOLTA funds come from a $16.6 billion settlement in 2014 between Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve claims of toxic mortgage practices. A portion of the settlement provides funds for civil legal services.
The LUSD Law Clinic will use the grant to help non-profit organizations and local governments provide affordable housing, fight poverty, and rebuild communities, according to Katherine Garvey, director of the clinic.
“If a non-profit affordable housing association wants to acquire property, for example, we might help with the legal services needed to do so and help them understand the different contracts and financing needed to make that happen,” she explained.
The grant gives the LUSD Law Clinic the resources to hire experts who can help its clients navigate complicated financing issues.
“We have expertise in real estate services, land use planning and land use legal services, but the financing packages that come together for affordable housing developments are very complicated,” she explained. “So we want to offer some accounting expertise, as well.”
The IOLTA grant will also support some of the LUSD Law Clinic’s work in flood-impacted communities in southern West Virginia. This includes helping the City of Richwood and the Town of Rainelle with real estate services to rebuild homes.
Additionally, the grant will support two AmeriCorps VISTA members and four summer fellowships for law students to work in the LUSD Law Clinic.
The IOLTA grant was made through the WVU Foundation in conjunction with “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University.” The $1 billion fundraising effort runs through December 2017.