Dozens of Richmond Tenants Have Avoided Eviction Through City’s New Program
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the city’s new Eviction Diversion Program has helped 56 families stay in their homes since the program began in October. In an interview with VPM News, Stoney said more than 400 residents have called in requesting assistance.
Richmond made national news last year when a Princeton University study revealed that the city had the second highest eviction rate in the country. This city’s program was developed, soon after, the release of the report.
The program provides tenants with financial assistance to pay up to half of their overdue rent. And as long as the landlord agrees, they can work with the courts to set up a payment plan for the balance.
“We get to ensure that the tenant stays in the home and then the landlord gets made whole through the rent,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said. “But also we provide some services as well, some wrap-around services like financial literacy so that the tenant doesn't end up in this situation again. And that’s what we want for them.”
The city awarded a grant of $485,140 to Housing Opportunities Made Equal to operate the program.
Many of the participants are public housing residents.
After 52 Creighton Court residents were in court for eviction notices in October, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority vowed to work with the city’s eviction diversion program and froze all evictions through the end of January.
The help is available to tenants who have an eviction lawsuit filed against them, but have an otherwise good history of paying their rent on time.
Stoney says the program is not for tenants who are in and out of court for evictions.
“We don’t want this to be a crutch,” he said. “We want this to be a hand up and ability to ensure that their children and themselves can put their head on the pillow at night.”
The program is a partnership between the city, legal aid groups, fair housing watchdogs and the city courts. The city recruited volunteer lawyers to work on the cases.
The General Assembly also passed a law in 2019 to create eviction diversion programs in Petersburg, Hampton, Danville as well as Richmond.