Evictions & Housing

The Problem:

Last October, over 250 RISC members gathered after listening to hundreds of stories and voted to tackle housing and evictions.

We heard heart-wrenching stories from our brothers and sisters who struggle to find housing they can afford. We heard from family members concerned for loved ones who have to make tough decisions between paying for food, medicine, and housing, and from mentors and volunteers who have seen the devastating impacts of eviction on children.

In November, RISC formed a Housing and Evictions research team. That team has since grown to 67 members! Our team has invested hundreds of hours in conducting research and meeting with over a dozen housing experts. Our conclusion – Richmond is facing an outlandish, shameful crisis of evictions which is drawing national scrutiny, and the city MUST do more to respond.

• 17 households are evicted every day in Richmond. 

• Over 40,000 Richmond residents were affected by evictions in 2017, in nearly 18,000 eviction cases. 

• This adds up to nearly 1 in 3 renters receiving an eviction notice within the year. 

Evictions are an epidemic in our community. And while they are now getting national attention, our eviction rate has not changed much in over 15 years. We believe that with the power of organized people, we can make a difference and put an end to the eviction crisis!

The Solutions:

Eviction Diversion Programs give tenants the time, education, and financial assistance they need to stay in their homes and avoid having an eviction on their record. This Program can be an effective tool for some of the 40,000 people in our community affected by eviction each year. It’s intended for people in crisis, to ensure that one financial emergency does not have a life-altering impact on their credit, record, and ability to obtain decent housing in the future.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund can help prevent people in our community from facing a financial emergency in the first place. Experts told over and over that one of the root causes of eviction is that there’s just not enough affordable housing in Richmond. One significant factor that puts people at risk of eviction is paying more than 30% of their income for their housing.

In Richmond 47% of all households pay more than 30% of their income for housing.

22% of Richmond households pay more than HALF of their income on housing.

39,000 families in our city are on the brink of homelessness, one crisis away from an eviction.

An Affordable Housing Trust Fund is one proven solution for this issue. Over 700 cities and counties in the U.S. have Affordable Housing Trust Funds, which provide the final money needed for successful construction of housing for those most in need. The money in the fund is used to “seed” developments of affordable and mixed-income housing.

RISC originally asked City Council and Mayor Jones in 2011 to provide $3 million a year for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. City Council had created a Trust Fund in 2007, but never put a penny in the fund. RISC identified that the trust fund was a proven solution our city desperately needed. In looking at other cities we found that a city our size needs at least $3 million in recurring funding each year for a Trust Fund to be effective. According to national standards that amount would bring in $18 to $30 million dollars to our city for housing – and could directly support up to 200 jobs – every year, for as long as the fund exists.

From 2011 to 2015, we pressed City Council to put money in the Trust Fund. In fact, the Trust Fund would NOT be functional without RISC. Without YOU! Council members have told us that our public presence during those years kept the issue on the front burner. Since 2015, the City of Richmond has put just under $1 million each year into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. And the results of that meager investment have surpassed even the national standards:

- More than 220 new units have been built

- More than 1,100 families have entered affordable housing

- City officials report more than $78 million in private and public funds that have been drawn to the city to create affordable housing because the Trust Fund exists

- The city reports over 700 jobs created during construction and 43 jobs supported each year that the trust fund operates

Our Plan for Action:

By including funding for the Eviction Diversion Program and Affordable Housing Trust Fund in his budget this year, Mayor Stoney is putting a down payment on the proven resources that our city needs to avert our eviction epidemic.

We also know that the Mayor’s budget has been a source of controversy in the city because of the proposed revenue source of increased real estate taxes. The danger is that because most of the City Council members do not approve of the real estate tax, they will make significant cuts to the budget. The opportunity we have is to work with City Council members to ensure the funding remains in the budget. As RISC, we are not taking a stance on the real estate tax increase. We believe that regardless of the funding source, the city should prioritize funding programs that reduce the eviction crisis that is tearing apart the lives of 40,000 of our brothers and sisters.

Join us to stand for housing justice!

Get involved in raising awareness in the lead-up to the Nehemiah Action - click here to sign up!

Come to the Nehemiah Action on May 2 - click here for more information!

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