Mayor Stoney announces creation of City of Richmond Eviction Task Force
Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the creation of the City of Richmond Eviction Task Force, an advisory body charged with addressing the causes of evictions in Richmond and prescribing preventative solutions.
The task force will work alongside the city’s Eviction Diversion Program, a first-of-its-kind within the Commonwealth of Virginia mediation program providing rental assistance, pro bono legal support, financial counseling, and supportive service referrals to residents already in the court system for rent-due cases and facing housing insecurity.
The Eviction Diversion Program, launched in October 2019 in partnership with Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Firms in Service and the court system, is poised to thwart hundreds of potential evictions in its first year.
“The Eviction Diversion Program will make a real impact in the lives of some of our most vulnerable community members currently facing eviction proceedings in court,” said Mayor Stoney. “However, we recognize that we also have the responsibility to address the root causes of evictions and work to prevent the threat of eviction from occurring in the first place. I am counting on this group to explore steps the city can take to better understand, mitigate and prevent the conditions that make our most vulnerable residents, including our children, susceptible to housing insecurity.”
The task force will include housing and human services stakeholders, affordable housing and social justice advocates, youth and family homelessness specialists, public housing residents and property management professionals, including leadership of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA), which recently agreed to freeze eviction proceedings and partner with Mayor Stoney’s Eviction Diversion Program to mediate rent-due cases between RRHA and its tenants, educate RRHA residents through financial literacy workshops and prevent evictions from public housing units.
“Housing is a matter of equity and justice, and it touches every other aspect of a person’s life,” said Mayor Stoney. “Evictions in Richmond disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income, single-family households with children, creating a traumatic downward spiral for people already suffering from economic challenges and other hardships. That is why it is critical for us to innovate bold, collaborative and compassionate methods to better meet the needs of all Richmonders.”
The task force will meet regularly to provide the mayor with recommendations and guidance on how the city can holistically address the eviction crisis and ensure housing stability for all of Richmond’s residents, especially for its most historically vulnerable communities.
City of Richmond Eviction Task Force Members:
Omari Al-Qadaffi – Housing organizer/Legal Aid Justice Center
Jovan Burton – Partnership for Housing Affordability
Janae Craddock/Marty Wegbreit – Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
Damon Duncan – Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority
Douglas Dunlap – City of Richmond Department of Housing and Community Development
Reggie Gordon – City of Richmond Office of Human Services
Tracey Hardney Scott – Housing Chair, NAACP
Kelly King Horne – Homeward
Kathryn Howell/Ben Theresa – VCU/RVA Eviction Lab
Christie Marra– Virginia Poverty Law Center
Heather Mullins Crislip/Monica Jefferson – Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia
LaFonda Page – RRHA Resident/Legal Aid Justice Center
William Poarch - ACTS
Erika Schmale – Richmond Public Schools’ McKinney Vento Homeless Education Specialist
Patrice Shelton – Hillside Court Tenant Council
Alice Tousignant – HD Advisors
Lisa Williamson – Real estate broker, Richmond Property Owners Association, National Association of Residential Property Managers
The first meeting of the Eviction Task Force will take place December 2, 2019, 4 – 5:30 p.m. in the large conference room on the 2nd floor of City Hall, 900 E. Broad Street. Future Eviction Task Force meeting dates, times and locations will be publicized by the City Clerk’s Office and the Mayor’s Office.
For more information on the Eviction Task Force or the Eviction Diversion Program, contact Osita Iroegbu, the Mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor for Community Engagement, Inclusion and Equity, at Osita.Iroegbu@richmondgov.com.