Eviction rates on the rise in Roanoke and across Virginia

Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 4:41 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley received a $400,000 grant from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to help prevent homelessness. It comes as eviction rates are skyrocketing across the state.

The grant money is going to be used to hire more lawyers and paralegals to provide legal assistance. In the last year, the Legal Aid Society has seen a 70% increase in Roanoke eviction cases.

Across the commonwealth of Virginia, nearly 58% of households are fearing eviction in the next two months.

One Roanoke resident explained the impact it has on families.

”Everyone fears nowadays waking up and losing their house,” Brandon Swett said.

Swett has faced eviction several times in the last year.

“I was facing eviction as my son was born,” Swett said.

Since the renter’s assistance program ended in May, Swett explained finding and keeping affordable housing has been a challenge.

“Trying to keep up on our bills and our utilities and the rent and everything stacking up on top of each other, along with the kid, it made it very hard for us to even be able to make ends meet,” Swett said.

The shortage of affordable housing has pushed more tenants to seek legal advice to avoid eviction.

“We used to schedule clients within roughly a week and now we’re scheduling two weeks out,” staff attorney Emily Jewett said. “We just have so many clients calling about eviction issues.”

Jewett explained the increasing housing costs are pricing families out of affordable homes.

“There are definitely a lot of high end, lovely apartments, but they come with a high end lovely apartment price,” Jewett said. “A lot of our clients are just normal working families and they need to have affordable housing.”

Swett explained how his rent has increased in the last two years.

“They were advertising this place for $889, now I pay close to about $1,000 a month to live here,” Swett said. “Trying to find anything nowadays that’s affordable seems impossible.”

The need for affordable housing continues to grow, but the supply isn’t meeting the demand. Jewett explained if eviction rates keep going up, the homeless population will keep increasing.

The Legal Aid Society grant funds from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust is also going toward resources for educating tenants about unlawful evictions.

Copyright 2022 WDBJ. All rights reserved.