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Norfolk residents urge Gov. Youngkin to sign housing bills

Virginia Organizing meeting
Posted at 12:49 AM, Mar 11, 2024

NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk residents are sending a clear message to Governor Glenn Youngkin. Protect tenants.

On Sunday, members of Virginia Organizing met with residents and faith leaders at New Macedonia United Church of Christ. They are urging Youngkin to sign a plethora of housing bills that have already passed through the general assembly. They say these pieces of legislation simply uphold common decency.

“My mother lived in public housing for a college and so we’ve seen communities, ecosystems of people moved and displaced," said Monét Johnson with the New Virginia Majority.

According to The Eviction Lab, there's been more than 135,000 evictions within the last year. However, residents say Youngkin can lower that number with the click of a pen.

“I’m very hopeful that he will sign these bills because he’s the governor of Virginia and these are just basic needs,” said Tyran Green, a board member with Virginia Organizing.

Here's a list of the bills residents want to get signed:

  • HB597-SB479: Allows localities to sue a landlord if they can't maintain fit and habitable living conditions.
  • HB73: Expunges "unlawful detainer" actions after they are dismissed or a judgment is entered that favors the tenant.
  • HB442: Requires a landlord to allow the renter to start a payment plan if the rent owed is less than or equal to one month's rent plus late fees.
  • HB598: Increases the late rent grace period of five to 14 days.
  • HB817: Adds numerous actions to the list of prohibited retaliatory actions by a landlord against a tenant. Makes it harder for landlords to enact reactionary punishments on the tenant.
  • HB993-SB422: Forbids rental agreements from containing fees for maintenance or repair or fees to submit rental payments unless the payment does not have a fee.
  • HB1251: Gets rid of requirement that a tenant must pay rent to escrow during their assertion against a landlord.

“I think at the base level a lot of folks don’t know the few rights they do have in terms of organizing in terms of participating and getting more friendly conditions for where they live. And more so important because there’s legislation that is being passed and we want our legislators to know that this is actually important to us,” Johnson said.
This is one of ten events that Virginia Organizing is hosting. With the rising cost of housing, Johnson says this is something everyone should be paying attention to.

“While folks don’t think this is a huge issue. It’s around the corner for everyone," she said.

The residents plan on putting pressure on Youngkin's office to make sure these bills are signed. In fact, during the meeting, they all called his office, to make sure he knew conversations were being had about the bills.