PRESS RELEASE: Va Supreme Court halts evictions through June 28 at request of Gov. Northam
Tuesday, June 9th, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Christie Marra, Director of Housing Advocacy
Monica Lauw, Communications Manager
RICHMOND, VA — Early Monday afternoon, the Virginia Supreme Court ordered that all residential evictions be immediately suspended for a period of twenty-one days. The order was issued in response to a request from Governor Northam sent to Chief Justice Lemons on Sunday, June 7.
“We’re grateful to the Governor and the Supreme Court for the protection this eviction moratorium will provide Virginia tenants, their families, and other members of their communities,” said Christie Marra, Director of Housing Advocacy for the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “By ensuring that people will not be put out of their homes during the next thirty days, today’s order will help everyone in Virginia continue to safely shelter during this pandemic. As Governor Northam has said, staying ‘Safer at home’ is critical to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”
VPLC and twenty state legislators wrote Governor Northam last month asking him to issue a statewide eviction moratorium. In the weeks that followed, people from across Virginia added their voices to support the request to stop evictions. Among those who wrote letters or signed petitions supporting an eviction moratorium were the Sierra Club, the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, and Richmond City Mayor Levar Stoney.
“This is huge for tenants, especially in Richmond where there were over 1,100 eviction cases scheduled to be heard between June 15 and June 26,” noted Phil Storey, Director of VPLC’s Eviction Legal Helpline. “But without significant rental assistance, we are still facing a tsunami of evictions,” he added, referring to the cases that will be heard once the eviction moratorium expires. Under the current order, the eviction moratorium will expire on June 29 unless the Virginia Supreme Court extends it.
In his letter to the Court, Governor Northam announced the Administration’s creation of a comprehensive rent relief program for tenants but noted that the program wouldn’t be operational until after July 1. Advocates for tenants and landlords are pleased to know this program is on the way, but they worry that the amount of rent relief it will provide won’t suffice to stop evictions for the thousands of tenants who have fallen behind on their rent after losing income due to COVID-19.
“We really appreciate the fact that the Governor’s team is working to quickly establish this rent relief program, but we know more funding is needed,” Marra said. VPLC and others are looking to Washington DC, hoping Congress will include significantly more rent relief funding in the next stimulus bill.