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$2.9 million-plus awarded to reduce evictions in Virginia

Project NOW and the Eviction Diversion Coalition will host an informational session at noon...
Project NOW and the Eviction Diversion Coalition will host an informational session at noon Tuesday at the Rock Island County Courthouse, 1317 3rd Avenue Room 302.(Associated Press)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 4:13 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Governor Ralph Northam has announced more than $2.9 million for the Virginia Eviction Reduction Pilot (VERP) for seven projects throughout the Commonwealth to support eviction prevention services for 40 communities.

“Addressing the issue of evictions has been a policy priority for my administration even before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “This funding will provide housing stability for many Virginians providing access to safe, stable, and affordable housing. In addition to its tremendous work supporting affordable housing, community development, and other priorities, DHCD has led our programs to keep people in their homes and support small businesses during the pandemic. I want to thank DHCD Director Erik Johnson for his superb leadership of the agency, especially during the past 22 months. He has led an outstanding and creative team in finding innovative ways to help people during a challenging time.”

With evictions having negative impacts on the overall financial well-being for households, educational outcomes for people and community health, the purpose of the pilot program, says Northam, is “to create a local or regional coordinated-systems approach to effectively prevent evictions.”

A statement from the governor’s office reads, “VERP is designed to prevent evictions as much as possible but will also provide services that divert evictions once the legal process has begun. Eviction prevention services occur prior to a household being issued an unlawful detainer. Eligible activities of the pilot include but are not limited to financial assistance, case management, landlord outreach, legal services and court navigation services. A portion of the funds will be set aside for program evaluation to further inform eviction prevention and diversion best practices moving forward.”

“Safe, affordable, and stable housing is essential to Virginia’s communities and our economic success‚” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This funding is critical to serve Virginia’s most vulnerable populations and will help refine our eviction prevention and diversion strategy going forward.”

The following projects will receive 2022 Virginia Eviction Reduction Pilot (VERP) Grant Awards:

Eviction Reduction in Martinsville and Henry County

$130,000

United Way of Henry County and Martinsville | Henry County and the City of Martinsville

The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville (UWHCM) will provide eviction prevention and diversion services to Henry County and the City of Martinsville through rental assistance, utility assistance, support services to complete workforce training or maintain employment and financial education courses. Applicants will receive detailed intake and case management to gain a more complete understanding of the factors contributing to a household’s housing stability. UWHCM will use its strong network of community stakeholders to strengthen collaboration and improve the overall housing stability of the individual. They will also work closely with landlords to identify individuals who could benefit from the program before they fall too far behind.

HOME Eviction Reduction Program 2022

$950,000

Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. | Counties of Chesterfield and Henrico and cities of Hopewell, Petersburg, and Richmond

Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. (HOME) will expand upon their Eviction Diversion Program by increasing outreach efforts to high-need communities, providing additional rental assistance and expanding case management. The program began in 2018 through the city of Richmond’s Eviction Diversion Pilot Program, which was the first of its kind in the region. Funding will support the provision of eviction prevention and diversion activities, including two additional eviction diversion counselors and the creation of a legal court navigation program to assist clients at local courthouses.

Peninsula Eviction Reduction Pilot (PERP)

$850,000

United Way of the Virginia Peninsula | Counties of Gloucester, James City, Mathews, New Kent and York, and the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and Williamsburg

The United Way of the Virginia Peninsula (UWVP) will provide eviction prevention and diversion services, as well as a court navigator program to the Virginia Peninsula, specifically targeting the cities of Hampton and Newport News, both priority areas with high rates of eviction. Funding will support UWVP’s increased capacity to address evictions by strengthening the network of housing solutions through partnerships with schools and courts and by increasing the accessibility of services.

ALIVE! - AEPP & Court Navigation 2022

$550,000

ALIVE! | City of Alexandria

ALIVE! will provide eviction prevention and diversion services in the city of Alexandria, where pockets of communities have high eviction rates, through the Alexandria Eviction Prevention Program (AEPP). Funding will support a holistic multipronged approach across the eviction continuum while leveraging existing partnerships with service providers, Legal Aid and the court system to conduct outreach and better coordination. Funds will cover the cost of financial assistance and stabilization supports, mitigation and trauma reduction, and court navigation.

Family Crisis Support Services VERP Project

$500,000

Family Crisis Support Services Inc. | Counties of Dickenson, Lee, Scott, and Wise, the cities of Wise, and Norton, and the towns of Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Clintwood, Coeburn, Dungannon, Gate City, Jonesville, Nickelsville, Pennington Gap, Pound, St. Charles, St. Paul, Weber, and Wise

Family Crisis Support Services Inc. (FCSS) will provide eviction prevention services for rural communities that may experience significant informal evictions that are not accounted for in available eviction data. FCSS will utilize its coordinated entry process and work with local landlords and property managers to identify individuals and families at risk of evictions, while also using partnerships with local courts to address systemic causes of eviction. Funding will support case management and financial assistance to families and individuals facing eviction, as well as cover outreach, coordination efforts, initiatives and partnerships that promote systems change.

Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission

$250,000

Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission | City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) will work with the Piedmont Housing Alliance to serve the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County through rent assistance, stabilization services, and court navigation. Funding will support an Eviction Case Management Program at the newly created Financial Opportunity Center/Housing Hub as well as the creation of an eviction prevention case manager position and a landlord navigator position.

Norfolk Eviction Mitigation Program

$200,000

City of Norfolk

This project will provide eviction prevention and diversion services to the city of Norfolk, a priority area with a high rate of evictions. The city, in partnership with local community organizations, will fund and expand upon the strategies identified in their Eviction Action Plan, including rental assistance, child care assistance, training, and court navigation. Funding will support two eviction prevention navigators to staff the Norfolk Eviction Prevention Resource Center operating at the courthouse, as well as an eviction prevention education and outreach coordinator that will conduct marketing campaigns, and work closely with the city and with community groups to inform tenants from neighborhoods with the highest rates of eviction.

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