Charlottesville housing advocates back eviction bill despite Va. Senate delay

Charlottesville housing advocates back eviction bill despite Va. Senate delay
Fair housing activists support an eviction moratorium bill, despite a delay in the Va. State Senate. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Action on a bill that would ban evictions until May 2021 was delayed until a later date by a Virginia State Senate committee. Despite a competing bill advancing to the Senate floor, fair housing advocates still say there’s too much at stake for a moratorium not to pass.

The Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology voted to delay action on SB 5051, a bill sponsored by Senator Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield), pushing the debate back until a later date. Moratorium supporters say, there’s still hope it will pass, despite the delay.

“People are still open to continue to discuss the language of the bill,” Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville Managing Attorney Elaine Poon said. “Maybe not even the language, but keeping that bill alive, and seeing whether or not we can work towards some sort of protection for tenants.”

At the same time, a competing bill was approved by the committee, and is being debated on the senate floor. SB 5088, sponsored by Senators John Bell (D-Loudon County) and Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) would not prevent evictions. Instead, it would require landlords to present tenants behind on rent with a notice of the amount owed, and offer them a payment plan of the debt over six months. Advocates worry it won’t go far enough, but say whichever bill passes, the threat of evictions remains very real.

“Since the last moratorium was lifted, 4000 households have lost their homes,” Poon explained. “When we look at what’s already happened, and we are confronted with the question of ‘What do we do moving forward?’ I hope that people keep that in mind when they’re making decisions.”

The Virginia Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee will pick that debate back up when they meet again on August 26.

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