61 and counting: evictions continue in Richmond area despite federal moratorium

As many as 262,000 households across the state are at risk of eviction, according to the RVA Eviction Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

The Supreme Court of Virginia declined a request from Gov. Ralph Northam earlier this month to extend a state freeze on evictions for nonpayment of rent, citing the federal moratorium established to keep renters housed during the public health crisis.

During a special legislative session, state lawmakers have, so far, not committed to a blanket ban on evictions that would supersede the federal order, despite calls from advocates who worry the CDC moratorium leaves tenants vulnerable amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How many tenants locally have taken advantage of it to date is unclear. Local courts are not tracking the number because a tenant does not have to file a declaration with the court. 

But legal aid attorneys who help tenants facing eviction say few know about the declaration, and those who do have, in some instances, encountered unnecessary obstacles or outright pushback when they have sought to assert its protections.

“It’s very obvious that even with these protections on paper, that’s not how it works, way too many times,” said Phil Storey, a housing attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

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