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Richmond Eviction Diversion Initiative Helps Dozens In First Three Months

an empty room
An empty room. (Photo: Grant Hollingworth/Creative Commons)

The City of Richmond’s Eviction Diversion Program kicked-off its work last fall in an effort to tackle the high number of evictions in the city. Some of the people it’s been assisting include residents in subsidized housing. 

“Every time we divert an eviction, we are helping to reduce poverty,” said Marty Wegbreit, director of litigation with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.

According to a report by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), since the initiative started on October 1 it’s helped 76 residents — the majority of them are tenants of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. But that’s only about 25% of the total number of participants initially screened for the program — other residents were deemed ineligible for things like being too far behind on their late payments, and having already been displaced from their homes. 

Mayor Levar Stoney said that the program is there to help tenants who’ve fallen behind on their rents due to unforeseen circumstances, and not for those who are repeatedly facing eviction.

 “Eviction diversion is there to catch those who might be falling through the cracks,” Stoney said. He added that while eviction diversion is a safety net for some, it’s not a solution.

The Eviction Diversion Program was created following the release of an in-depth report on the city’s high number of evictions. After that, the city’s Eviction Task Force was formed due to growing concerns about increased eviction cases for residents living in subsidized housing

The task force began its work alongside the program in December, with the purpose of examining issues at the root cause of eviction, and drafting possible solutions to address them. Its five focus areas are:

  • Tenant-landlord education
  • Addressing the needs of residents making 30% or less of the area median income (AMI)
  • Policy and legislation
  • Post-eviction assistance
  • Centralized access to resources for tenants facing eviction

The task force will present its first set of recommendations and budget proposals to the mayor on Tuesday, January 14th at 4 p.m. in the large conference room on the 7th floor of City Hall.

Explore more about the eviction crisis at HOME’s exhibit “Evicted in Richmond” , now on display at Richmond Public Library’s Main Branch for a limited time.

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