Chesterfield Black History Month panel to discuss eviction crisis

Posted at 11:54 AM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 12:13:59-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — The Chesterfield County Public Library system will continue to commemorate Black History Month with a virtual panel discussion on Monday about the effects of the eviction crisis on the Black community.

Tracey Hardney-Scott, chair of the Richmond NAACP’s Housing Committee, and Dr. Benjamin Teresa, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, will lead a discussion to gain a deeper understanding of how evictions tear the thread of a community’s fabric from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Jen Shepley manages community services for Chesterfield County Public Libraries. She said evictions have a direct impact on a person’s mental and physical health.

“If stable housing isn’t being supported from a community perspective and government prospective then, ultimately, support goes to places like emergency shelters or crime-related issues or emergency room visits,” she explained. “It really becomes a matter of where do you want the support and the funding to be focused.”

Shepley said evictions lead to increases in emergency room visits and juvenile delinquency. It can increase hospitalization rates for community members who are pregnant, and can lead to premature death as well as an increase in infant mortality rates.

The Legal Aide Justice Center tracks statistics regarding evictions in Virginia. More than 15,000 families lost their homes since the state’s eviction moratorium ended in June 2020.

The center reported during the same time period, nearly 50,000 evictions were heard in court. An additional 8,000 eviction hearings are scheduled across Virginia within the next eight weeks.