On March 14, 2019, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed Senate Bill 1450, sponsored by Senator Mamie Locke, and House Bill 2655, sponsored by Delegate Christopher Collins. These bills create an Eviction Diversion Pilot Program aimed at reducing eviction rates and collecting concrete data on evictions in Virginia. This program will be piloted in the cities of Danville, Hampton, Petersburg, and Richmond.
This new legislation comes as a result of a 2018 report identifying five Virginia localities as being among the top ten in the nation for the highest rate of evictions (per 2016 data).
Leaders within the Virginia REALTORS® responded immediately, working alongside the General Assembly leadership and the Virginia Housing Commission to identify and develop a framework for addressing the scope of the problem and specific initiatives that the General Assembly should consider in the 2019 General Assembly session.
“Virginia localities have some of the highest rates of evictions in the nation, yet there are clear gaps [in] our ability to obtain tangible data and fully address this crisis in our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “My administration remains focused on increasing access to quality, affordable housing and this pilot program will assist the state in developing stronger methods for preventing evictions and expanding important protections for all renters in Virginia.”
Virginia REALTORS® CEO Terrie Suit said, “I would like to offer a special thank you to the Virginia REALTORS® for coming up with these eviction proposals, drafting the language, and ensuring, through their dues-funded lobbying efforts, that the bills actually passed the legislative session.”
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will be collaborating with the Virginia Housing Commission to evaluate the Eviction Diversion Program, along with the impacts of the evictions-related legislation passed during the 2019 General Assembly. This data will be used to create methods for resolving unlawful retainer actions and reduce the number of evictions impacting Virginia’s low-income population.