Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax was in the Regional Building on Tuesday, July 17, to discuss high eviction rates in Virginia, in particular, Hampton Roads. A recent New York Times report ranked five Virginia cities among the top 10 in the U.S. with the highest eviction rates (four of the five - Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk and Chesapeake - are in Hampton Roads). The meeting at the HRPDC offices followed a similar meeting the same day in Newport News. Another forum was held in Richmond.
These meetings were designed to hear from housing providers, landlords, tenants, law enforcement, community organizers and local and state elected officials regarding the report and to discuss solutions for reducing the eviction rates in Virginia. Some of the solutions offered during Tuesday’s meetings included: increased focus on tenant rights education, establishing intervention opportunities before eviction, and creating additional funding to assist tenants in crisis, and overall education on resources available to tenants.
However, some participants suggested more large scale solutions may be in order. Improving the Region’s economic diversity by attracting industry and employers with better paying jobs was mentioned. Increasing the availability and supply of affordable housing for families was also offered up.
Finally, some participants suggested that legislative or policy changes regarding tenant/landlord rights and responsibilities, as well as to the eviction process and procedures could bring the eviction rates down.
The Lieutenant Governor’s involvement in these meetings suggests that the State of Virginia is aware of the high eviction rates and all options are under careful consideration.