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Headshot of Larisa Zehr

Larisa Zehr

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Justice Center
  • Sponsored by Housing Justice Program
  • Service location Virginia
  • Law school Northeastern University School of Law
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Housing Justice Program

The Project

Larisa Zehr’s (she/her/hers) project with Legal Aid Justice Center will focus on working with immigrant communities across Northern Virginia to fight displacement and achieve housing justice.

Northern Virginia is home to many long-term immigrant communities that are in the midst of displacement. Systemic racial, economic, and citizenship status discrimination make it very difficult for these communities to secure stable, long-term affordable housing, exacerbated by COVID-19. Increasing development pressures, a lack of local and state-level policies that protect affordable housing, and Virginia’s limited tenant protections mean that immigrant families are being pushed out of the region. However, there are many groups of tenants and grassroots organizations pushing back. Legal Aid Justice Center has long-term connections with people organizing for housing justice, especially with undocumented and underdocumented communities. With this project, Larisa Zehr will work alongside community members to fight displacement with multiple tools: individual defense of tenant rights, policy advocacy, strategic litigation, and community education.

Fellowship Plans

Larisa Zehr will work with tenant groups and grassroots organizations to support their advocacy for more just housing policy on a local level, including through policy advocacy, community education, and strategic legal research. She will highlight the impact of affordable housing policy on the particular needs of immigrant communities to key policy stakeholders. She will also defend community members from displacement both in eviction court and because of systemic neglect of repairs and housing quality.

Project Inspiration

My Equal Justice Works Fellowship allows me to fight alongside Northern Virginia’s immigrant tenants for a housing system that is accountable for its harm to immigrant communities. My experience working with people who have been forcibly displaced makes me proud to contribute to the fight for housing for all.

Our homes are where we imagine and build our futures. I learned about the impact of being forced out of your home from rural farmers in Colombia, where I supported their fight to reclaim and rebuild their communities amid armed conflict. In my work in Northern Virginia, I see immigrants who were forced out of their communities by systemic violence and injustice, and after fighting to gain stability in a new home, face the continual threat of displacement. I am honored to work with them to preserve their communities and future homes.

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Host: Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Sponsor: Housing Justice Program