1,545 public housing units currently behind on rent as eviction moratorium nears end

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 2:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 2:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Officials with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority say they do not want to wholesale evict people come August.

The federal eviction moratorium comes to a close at the end of this month, and if families aren’t on a repayment plan or at least coming to the table to talk, evictions certainly will happen.

“We do not anticipate doing any lease enforcement action until we have first exhausted every other alternative, okay? So that means even after the moratorium is lifted if we still have families that are in the rears they will still be given an opportunity to apply for a repayment agreement,” said Angela Fountain, RHHA Spokeswoman.

Inside Richmond’s public housing community, 1,545 households are currently behind on rent.

“If you are having issues, if you’re having problems, if you’ve had a loss of income if it’s childcare-related, workforce-related, come see us. We can work this thing out,” said Fountain.

To help people get current on rent, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority launched a campaign called “Come Current.” Of the people behind, 776 of them are in repayment agreements, but 90 percent are delinquent on those repayment plans. The organization oversees about 3,700 public housing units.

“We don’t want to see any of our families homeless. We don’t want to see any of our families, you know, on the street. But at the end of the day, we can only do so much. You know we have a responsibility as a landlord and our families have a responsibility as residents,” said Fountain.

Fountain says RHHA has already received $2.1 million in rent relief funding to help residents.

Those working for RRHA are encouraging people behind on rent to apply for rent relief, or just reach out to them for help.

Watch the “Come Current” campaign here:

Meanwhile, Legal Aid Justice Center released the following statement to NBC12:

“RRHA has historically been one of the most aggressive landlords in Richmond in terms of eviction filings. Before the moratorium, in 2018, RRHA’s rate of filing eviction cases was 42.82% - far higher than the estimated 11% rate for the City overall (which was already one of the highest rates in the country). RRHA’s eviction rate was even higher in some of its Big 6 communities. For example, the 2018 eviction rate in Hillside Court was 64.93%; meaning that RRHA was trying to throw out nearly two-thirds of the evictions in Hillside over the course of just one year.

RRHA’s eviction moratorium pre-dated COVID. In the fall of 2019, in response to growing community pressure, RRHA agreed to halt evictions for non-payment of rent (the reason for the vast majority of evictions) while it reviewed its accounting practices and made policy changes. We applaud RRHA for having put this moratorium in place and for making some changes to its accounting and eviction policies. However, we strongly encourage RRHA to continue using eviction only as a last resort when required for public safety reasons.

RRHA has a mission and an obligation to provide decent, safe, and affordable housing. It is not a private landlord trying to turn a profit. RRHA communities are home for thousands of families but are also a last safety net. Once evicted, these families have nowhere else to turn. We urge RRHA not to return to its eviction practices of the past.”

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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