Richmond Housing Authority Freezes Evictions Until 2020
Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority said the agency will “do our part” to help tenants catch up on their back-rent. This comes after RRHA announced last week it’s pausing all evictions through the end of the year.
“Our chief goal is to bring our residents’ accounts as close to good standing as possible, not to observe a strict deadline,” RRHA’s legal counsel said on behalf of CEO Damon Duncan.
The decision follows increased scrutiny over the agency’s high number of eviction filings. Last month, the housing authority filed 83 eviction cases against residents of Creighton and Fairfield Courts.
Tenants of RRHA’s six housing “courts” now have 50 days to catch up on outstanding balances. The extent of debt that RRHA hopes to collect is unclear, but VPM has submitted an open records request to obtain that data.
RRHA officials say the housing agency will evaluate tenants’ accounts on a case-by-case basis to determine which resources to offer them. RRHA said its solutions for curbing its number of evictions include repayment plans, debt forgiveness and participation in the city’s new eviction diversion program.
“RRHA will continue to do our part to make sure that residents have good information about how much they owe and when they must pay,” the legal counsel wrote in an email. “Staying in good standing is the ultimate responsibility of the residents.”
The comments provided on behalf of Duncan added that RRHA will reevaluate its lease enforcement policies — including one authorizing rent payments to be used to cover outstanding utility bills and maintenance fees before going toward rent.
The housing authority maintained that all of its residents’ rent statements and account balances are — and have always been — accurate and up to date. However, recent reporting by VPM details Creighton residents’ complaints of accounting errors and unexpectedly high bills.
This is a developing story.
Editors’ Note: The original broadcast version of this story identified RRHA statements to CEO Damon Duncan. Those statements are from RRHA’s Legal Counsel on behalf of Duncan.