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Richmond Judge Hears 52 Eviction Cases Tuesday, All From Creighton Court

John Marshall Courts Building in Richmond, VA
Of the 52 eviction cases heard in Richmond General District Court Tuesday, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority said the court granted judgement on 35. (Photo: "Jury Duty Today" by super-structure is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Richmond General District Court heard 52 eviction cases Tuesday filed by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority against residents of Creighton Court, a public housing community slated for demolition. 

At 10 a.m., Creighton residents formed a line in the aisle that backed up to the door of the courtroom. 

Resident Fay Fellows, who is a senior citizen, told the judge she doesn’t believe she owes the money. Fellows told VPM last week she’s lived in Creighton for five years and always pays her rent on time. 

“I’ve got a letter the other day that by the 19th I’ll be late. I’ve already paid my rent on the 3rd,” Fellows said. 

Like many of the residents at Tuesday’s hearing, Fellows was not represented by an attorney.  

VPM reviewed several residents’ documents that show RRHA deducted miscellaneous fees and utility charges from their monthly rent payments, which they say caused them to come up short. Some of the fees date back several years. 

RRHA CEO Damon Duncan, did not immediately respond to questions, but in an October 11 email, said there had been 13 other evictions as of September 1. 

The eviction cases heard Tuesday represent 10% of Creighton’s 504 units. 

Duncan released a statement Tuesday night that said there were 52 unlawful detainers filed against residents who have not paid rent in 90 days or more. 

“Of the 52, the court granted a judgment on 35 cases," Duncan said. "The remaining 17 cases have already satisfied their arrears." 

He added there is no correlation between the unlawful detainers and the redevelopment of Creighton Court. 

“As a practice, RRHA waits 10 days to purchase an eviction. After the 10 days, RRHA allows residents another 7-15 days to make the payment. Finally, residents can come on the very last day and RRHA will accept 50% of balance and grant yet another 30 days, all to avoid an eviction," Duncan said. 

Duncan added RRHA has met with the Richmond Mayor’s office and has agreed to partner with the city in its new eviction diversion program, which began earlier this month. The program uses volunteer lawyers to negotiate agreements between tenants and landlords in an effort to avoid evictions. It also provides financial assistance for tenants who meet program qualifications.

 

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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