Quarter 3 2021, Volume 9 Issue 3
Achieving Housing Sustainability for the Most Vulnerable in Virginia
Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME)’s mission is to ensure equal access to housing for all people. HOME staff tackle systemically divisive housing practices through fair housing enforcement, research, advocacy, and statewide policy work. They assist with equal access to housing and credit, which helps combat wealth inequality and provides a powerful catalyst toward affirmatively furthering fair housing.
Prior to and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, HOME is working in partnership with the City of Richmond Voluntary Eviction Diversion Program (EDP). This is the first EDP in Virginia and is a successful partnership between HOME, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, the City of Richmond, and others. The overall vision of the EDP is to stabilize housing for Richmond tenants and dismantle behaviors that have an adverse impact on people’s lives, including:
- Reduce the number of evictions of low-income individuals and families for failure to pay rent
- Minimize the displacement of families from their homes and the resulting adverse consequences related to social inequities and chronic school absenteeism
- Diminish the financial impact on families, landlords, and communities dealing with the aftermath of an eviction
HOME is an important advocate in its community and continues to support the needs of Richmond residents’ lives through rental housing counseling. In addition to eviction prevention, HOME aids first-time homebuyers and those under the threat of foreclosure. HOME’s housing counselors are deeply committed to enhancing and strengthening all clients living situations and to making Richmond a place where homeowners, tenants, and their families can thrive.
Client Success Story
Towards the end of 2019, one EDP client found herself in a frightening predicament. Life had dealt her multiple financial blows at once. On top of numerous medical issues, she had just had her work hours reduced from full-time to part-time. In addition, her sister, with whom she had been splitting the rent, had moved out. Finally, her boyfriend lost his job, which temporarily placed the burden of the full rent onto the client. When she was served an unlawful detainer notice, she also received a flyer for how to apply to the EDP. The housing counseling stability specialists at HOME were able to guide their client to voice a participation request in court to become a part of the EDP. HOME was also able to provide guidance on money management and approve their client for a payment plan to assist in bringing her rent current. HOME’s client stressed the importance of the EDP’s financial literacy classes and said that if it were not for the EDP, she would not be living in her apartment today.