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Eviction Moratorium Pauses Thousands of Cases, Advocates Say


The Supreme Court of Virginia issued a temporary moratorium on evictions during the economic crisis.

When the courts were closed for the judicial emergency, landlords were not able to bring eviction cases. That created an eviction moratorium of sorts. But when the courts reopened, hundreds of landlords started bringing cases across Virginia. That led to a huge concern about what might happen at the beginning of next month, when even more people might be unable to pay rent and suddenly be facing eviction. 

“There are thousands of eviction cases pending across the commonwealth right now,”  says Christine Marra at the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “They could put thousands of people out on the street with nowhere to go, and in the current climate with this pandemic that can significantly increase the risk of infection both for the people who are put out on the street and for anybody they come into contact with.”

That’s why the Supreme Court is ordering a stop to all residential evictions for three weeks.

Elaine Poon at the Legal Aid Justice Center says the judicial order acknowledges the public health risk of evictions.  “Their realization that homelessness combined with the public health pandemic that we’re in is unacceptable, and it put a pause on that to suspend evictions during this incredibly dangerous time.”

Evictions may be on pause for now. But the rent will still be due with the moratorium is over, which is why many groups are calling on Governor Ralph Northam to come up with a plan help struggling families pay the rent and avoid being evicted after the moratorium is over.   In a statement, Northam said the plan would be unveiled in the coming weeks.

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This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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