Pilot program aims to lower Virginia eviction rates, governor says

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Gov. Ralph Northam signed two bills that aim to establish a statewide program to lower eviction rates. 

 Senate Bill 1450, sponsored by Sen. Mamie Locke, and House Bill 2655, sponsored by Delegate Christopher Collins, are identical bills that create an Eviction Diversion Pilot Program aimed at reducing eviction rates and collecting concrete data on evictions in the Commonwealth.

The program will be piloted in the cities of Danville, Hampton, Petersburg and Richmond. In addition to the goal of reducing eviction rates in the pilot cities, concrete data on the effectiveness of the program will be collected to help develop better methods for preventing evictions across the Commonwealth.

“Virginia localities have some of the highest rates of evictions in the nation, yet there are clear gaps our ability to obtain tangible data and fully address this crisis in our Commonwealth,” Northam said. “My administration remains focused on increasing access to quality, affordable housing and this pilot program will assist the state in developing stronger methods for preventing evictions and expanding important protections for all renters in Virginia.”

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will also collaborate with the Virginia Housing Commission to evaluate the Eviction Diversion Program and the effects from legislation passed during the 2019 General Assembly session related to evictions. From this data, Virginia will be able to develop consistent methods for resolving unlawful detainer actions and reduce the overall number of evictions that negatively impact low-income Virginians, including children and vulnerable populations.

Additionally, the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) recently made available a free online renter education course titled “How to be a Successful Renter,” which covers the rights and responsibilities of renting.

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