Housing advocates fear September will be "eviction tsunami"

Posted at 2:03 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 16:57:30-04

NORFOLK, Va. - With federal unemployment benefits expired and a federal moratorium on evictions over, housing advocates worry the month of September could be tough for many people.

"We have been worried about an eviction tsunami coming to us in September since this started," said Christie Marra, the Director of Housing Advocacy at the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

In days, rent is due again. Right now, the General Assembly is considering several proposals to address housing, including extending a moratorium on evictions. Marra thinks it should last until after the State of Emergency is over.

"What we are seeking is a true eviction moratorium because we think that's the thing that can truly protect people," said Marra.

Right now, there is a moratorium on evictions going to court, but it's set to expire on Sept. 7. Marra thinks the entire eviction process should be halted until after the pandemic. "We just need to keep people safely housed in the middle of this pandemic. The money will work itself out. Losing lives won't," she said.

Still, landlords are worried they won't get all the payments they're due. "Government created this by shutting down businesses and is now asking businesses to pick up the tab for people who were economically impacted because of the shutdown," said Patrick McCloud, the Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Apartment Management Association.

The state has created a rent relief program and there's hope the General Assembly will help provide a solution during their Special Session.

"We're in the business of providing housing. No one wants to do an eviction. That's an absolute last resort, which is why we've been working hard to refine the rent relief program," said McCloud.

Bills continue to be debated as the session continues.