Why eviction rates in Hampton Roads are among the worst in the United States

By Ryan Murphy

"Hampton Roads is among the worst areas in the nation for evictions of rental tenants.

New data on court-ordered evictions lays bare this statistic: All of the region’s cities in 2016 saw judges order tenants out of their homes at least three times the average national rate.

The figures come from Princeton University’s Eviction Lab and do not say how many people were physically evicted from their homes, only how many went through the courts.

But they do show that landlords asked courts to issue eviction orders for between a third and a fifth of the region’s renting households, depending on the city. In roughly a third of those cases, the courts ordered tenants out."

Read more at the Virginian Pilot...

In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America

By Emily Badger and Quoctring Bui

"RICHMOND, Va. — Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. “Put it in your car,” the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.

This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond."

Read more at the New York Times...

Promises are cheap on public housing. Norfolk residents want real commitments.

By Roger Chesley

"As PR stunts go, Ben Carson’s parachuting into Norfolk public housing the other day was about what you’d expect from a U.S. cabinet member. No more, no less.

The secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development swept through local housing communities Thursday with Mayor Kenny Alexander. Carson made generally vague commitments regarding the latest iteration of a federal redevelopment program, dubbed “opportunity zones.”

The designation would help drive private investment in low-income areas. Carson suggested Norfolk’s public housing downtown “likely” would be included.

He tried to reassure residents that everything would work out just fine — even though their lives probably will undergo upheaval in the coming years. Some residents, with justification, fear where they’ll land."

Read more at the Virginian Pilot...

HUD Secretary Ben Carson says Norfolk is likely to win tax breaks to spur redevelopment

By Ryan Murphy

"Ben Carson, the nation's top housing official, said during a tour of Norfolk on Thursday that he thinks it’s likely the city will net a federal designation to encourage private investment to redevelop three major public housing communities.

Carson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also said he's not worried about the displacement of the 4,200 residents living in those three neighborhoods after seeing the city's plans for the area."

Read more at the Virginian Pilot...

Housing Advocacy Needs Housing Voters

"An October 2017 study by Freddie Mac compared rent increases at 100,000 individual apartments it financed, documenting a 60 percent loss of affordable homes between 2010 and 2016. The losses were largely in the private rental market. In a subsequent Washington Postarticle, the head of Freddie Mac Multifamily said, “affordable housing without a government subsidy is becoming extinct. More renters have flooded the market after people lost their homes in the housing crisis. The apartment vacancy rate was 8 percent in 2009, compared to 4 percent in 2017. That trend coupled with a stagnant supply of apartments resulted in increased rents.”

The Great Recession overwhelmed communities throughout the country with foreclosures, forced evictions and relocations, loss of ownership, and loss of wealth. Financial institutions and investment groups are now buying up foreclosed single-family homes and renting them. Renters are struggling for stability as rents rise ever higher though incomes continue to stagnate and housing assistance need overwhelms what is available."

Read more over at ShelterForce...

Op-Ed from Antonym Press: Tax Growth from Public Housing Redevelopment Should Fund Services for Norfolk's Poor

by Jeff Hewitt

"Last month, City Council voted to begin the process of tearing down most of Norfolk's remaining public housing projects with the intention to replace them with mixed income development. Paul Riddick was the dissenting vote, citing concerns that there's no plan in place to rehouse the roughly forty-two hundred current residents spread out across these three communities. Redevelopment of the areas affected will first need to be approved by the Federal housing authority, though given the current administration’s disdain for public housing that's no great obstacle.

While the Council's vote isn't resulting in immediate evictions, that doesn't change the fact the last bits of subsidized housing in the city are vanishing, with nothing thus far slated to replace them. Make no mistake: The elimination of affordable housing for low income residents either pushes our poor out of the city or much more likely, into homelessness. And that's neither a moral nor sustainable solution to the issues Norfolk faces..."

Read more of Jeff's op-ed over at Antonym Press...