Aug 23, 2022 - News

Virginia's eviction surge is here

Data: Legal Services Corporation; Chart: Skye Witley/Axios

Housing advocates have been warning of the potential for a wave of evictions since the pandemic began.

What's happening: It's here.

  • After the last of the state-level eviction protections expired at the beginning of July, eviction filings have shot back up above pre-pandemic levels and are rising fast.

Why it matters: With more than 16,000 eviction hearings scheduled this month, thousands of people are likely to lose their housing, Christie Marra, the director of housing policy at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, tells Axios.

  • "There is just this black hole at this point, and people are falling into it," she says.

Details: The state's rent relief program stopped accepting new applications in mid-May, and temporary laws requiring landlords to give tenants extra time to pay rent and offer payment plans ended July 1.

Zoom in: Southwood Apartments LLC, which has faced ongoing scrutiny for poor living conditions, has filed more eviction lawsuits since July 1 than any other landlord in the Richmond area, according to an analysis by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

  • More than 100 of the 1,300 households at the South Richmond apartment complex face eviction.

What they're saying: Donald Garrett, a 69-year-old facing eviction from Pointe at River City Apartments in Henrico County, told the Times-Dispatch he's so nervous that he can't sleep.

  • A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday.
  • "When I leave my house, I'm scared that I'll come home and my stuff will be out on the street," he told the paper.

What's next: Housing and rent prices continue to rise, prompting concerns the problem will only get worse. Meanwhile, the number of shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness has plummeted.

What we're watching: Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed new tenant-friendly laws and, in a speech to lawmakers last week, said he won't support additional housing subsidies.

  • But at the same meeting, he voiced support for zoning reforms that low-income housing advocates have long sought, decrying "restrictive zoning policies and an ideology of fighting tooth and nail against any new development."

The remarks drew praise from an unlikely source: Alexandria's Democratic Mayor Justin Wilson, who, per ALXnow, called the comments "good news!"

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