HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) — The Virginia Poverty Law Center held a Campaign to Reduce Evictions event in Norfolk, Thursday, in an effort to tackle the eviction crisis in Hampton Roads.
Dozens of stakeholders such as tenants, community leaders, and housing representatives looked at the data behind the high eviction rates.
“It’s just unfair,” said Christie Marra, an attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “I mean this is the root, really, of why so many people are getting evicted is that our income inequality levels have gotten to the point of being punitive, ridiculous.”
Attendee Sharon Jiles said she was illegally evicted from her home in Hampton and discussed the struggles that come with raising nine grandchildren.
“You want to give up but you can’t because you know you have these children to raise,” said Jiles. “You have to keep on going, you have to fight the struggle for the betterment of your children’s education, for their health.”
Project Coordinator Carmen Bingham with the Affordable Clean Energy Project, part of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said there’s a direct correlation with high electricity burden and eviction rates.
“It’s not that they don’t want to pay the rent, its that they can’t,” said Bingham. “It’s unaffordable.”
Norfolk resident Christina Gardner lives under the threat of eviction in her Calvert Square home.
“You can just put a 72-hour notice on my door and I have to leave,” said Gardner. “That’s what possession of my unit means.”
Bingham said the goal of the event is to look at the data and then brainstorm solutions so that they can eventually change laws that don’t disproportionally target the poor.
“There’s no silver bullet,” said Bingham. “Affordable housing is not the one answer to help mitigate the eviction problem. Lowering electricity costs is not the one solution that’s going to fix this. It’s about bringing everyone to the table so that we can work together.”