Housing markets in Virginia are on the mend, but the road ahead is still unclear for renters struggling to recover from the economic devastation of COVID-19.
That’s one takeaway lawmakers heard at a Virginia Housing Commission meeting Wednesday.
So far, the numbers haven’t been quite as bad as Brian Gordon expected. "Virginia is trending better than national average in terms of both rent payments and housing security," Gordon told the commission. Gordon represents the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington.
According to data he presented, there was a reduction in tenants’ ability to pay rent in April and May, but the outcome wasn’t as bad as initially projected. And for June of this year, the 7.8% nonpayment rate for people living in professionally managed market-rate units was about the same as it was in 2019.
Payment arrangements between landlords and tenants have helped, but Christie Marra of the Virginia Poverty Law Center says they haven’t been an option for everyone. "A lot of the lower-income renters across the state can’t afford to rent from the professional landlords and rent from folks who are not necessarily operating with those same practices in mind," Marra said.
Marra, who is advocating for an eviction moratorium, says rent freezes or temporary rent reductions, when possible, can also help keep tenants safely housed.