‘It will get worse before it gets better’: Richmond advocates work to protect nearly 1,000 facing eviction

Another eviction crisis is looming in the Richmond area.
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:52 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Another eviction crisis is looming in the Richmond area. Nearly 1,000 people could be kicked out of their homes in the next few days.

While there are long-term solutions advocates are pushing for, they say a state of emergency is the only action that could help those families right now.

Tracey Hardney Scott, housing chair of the Richmond NAACP, is working around the clock to keep those families off the streets.

“We have a senior that we’re working with right now. Her rent went from $850 to $1400 [within a year]. How is that possible?” Hardney Scott asked.

She recently sent a letter to Gov. Youngkin calling for more resources.

Eviction moratoriums came to an end last June, and the $1 billion set aside for rent relief ran out in October.

“We have a bunch of people that are being evicted that were given promissory notes that they were going to pay that rent, and now they say that they are out of funds,” she said.

Marty Wegbreit, the director of the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, said that’s only part of the problem.

“Adding to those two things is the record-low vacancy rate for rental housing in Richmond and a record-high rate of rent increases, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an eviction crisis come roaring back, and that’s what is happening,” Wegbreit said.

The primary resource left standing is the Eviction Diversion Program.

“There’s so many times the tenant is on knife’s edge, and something happens that causes them to fall behind, and they just need more time to catch up,” Wegbreit said. “That’s why we have the Eviction Diversion Program, but the landlord has to be willing to participate,” he said.

Wegbreit and Hardney Scott went to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney last month, asking for more funding to support hundreds of struggling families better.

“We need immediate action because I can assure you looking at these numbers, it will get worse before it gets better,” Hardney Scott said.

There’s currently a bill in the state House to reinstate the 14-day non-payment notice, which would give renters more time to pay rent without penalty.

We’ll keep you updated as we track the bill’s progress.

Rental assistance resources can be found here.