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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

Grant Funding Aims to Alleviate Virginia Eviction Crisis

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023   

About $3-million has been awarded to Virginia groups helping people facing evictions. The Virginia Eviction Reduction Pilot Program is designed to find effective services for people facing housing instability. According to the R-V-A Virginia Eviction Lab's third quarter report, eviction filings increased 86% from the previous quarter, with Charlottesville seeing some of the largest increases. Much of this is due to pandemic-related renter protections being lifted.

Christie Marra, director of housing advocacy with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said while this third round of funding is a much-needed financial boost, it is not enough.

"The programs that are getting the funding now are not getting enough to meet the need in their area," Marra said. "And so, while the eviction rates for every locality that has a VERP-funded program serving it did go down, there is a lot of room for improvement."

She added that in the past, one of the groups that received funding went through it in two months. As the Virginia General Assembly's legislative session gets under way, tenant's rights legislation is one issue at the forefront of legislators' minds. One such piece of legislation, the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, seeks to increase the grace period for late rent, and would allow tenants to break leases when they move in and find a unit is uninhabitable.

While these grants are working to alleviate the eviction crisis, Marra hopes proposals for other tenant assistance programs will be taken up as well. One in particular is the Virginia Housing Stability Fund, which would be a state housing voucher program.

Marra acknowledged it won't come cheap, but said this program could aid numerous families.

"What we're asking for is for 90 million, and this would be a one-time ask for this pilot program to serve 5,000 households over the period of four years," she said.

In addition to gathering data, this program will also provide longer-term financial support than most VERP. The program hopes to bridge the gap between the shortage of affordable housing and the numerous Virginians who qualify for the federal housing voucher program, but can't receive it due to limited federal funding.

Disclosure: Virginia Poverty Law Center contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Housing/Homelessness, Poverty Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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