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After Five Months, Richmond Program Helps 122 Residents Avoid Eviction

city of richmond skyline
Richmond skyline. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM)

New data released by the City of Richmond shows more than 120 people have avoided eviction because of a diversion project launched last year. 

Mayor Levar Stoney launched the Eviction Diversion Program last year after a 2018 New York Times article highlighted Richmond as  number two in the nation for evictions. Data presented to Richmond City Council showed the program has helped 122 people over the past five months with cash assistance to stay in their homes. On average, each participant gets around $1,300. 

City Council member Ellen Robertson said she thinks the program has been a wise investment in Richmond families.

“I think we should continue to do this and perhaps even look for more creative ways to provide financing for not only those who are facing eviction, but to build and provide affordable housing,” Robertson said after the presentation.

About 40 percent of participants in the Eviction Diversion Program have been public housing residents. Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority started participating in the program after coming under increased scrutiny for a high number of evictions in Creighton and Fairfield Courts.

The average family participating in the program has a yearly income of $18,000.

Monica Jefferson, vice president of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, said the program, which also includes financial literacy education, has served as an intervention for people who could otherwise end up housing insecure.

“It’s about stabilizing families and stabilizing their lives,” Jefferson said. “Each and every morning most of us wake up and we know where we are going to lay our heads the next day. Many families don’t have that option.”

To be eligible for the program, the renter must already be in the process of eviction. Housing Opportunities Made Equal, the city and pro bono attorneys intervene in the process to help the person pay back rent or work out a payment plan with the landlord. The program is entirely voluntary. 

In the proposed 2021 budget released last week, Mayor Stoney included a 40 percent increase for the program, raising funding to $686,000.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for Louisville Public Media.
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