RICHMOND—Gov. Ralph Northam has signed into law legislation to create a pilot program that aims to curb evictions and allow for the collection of data on how to stem them among low-income Virginians.
The program will examine eviction diversion efforts in Richmond, Petersburg, Danville and Hampton to gauge the effectiveness of different approaches.
The proposal, called the Establish Eviction Diversion Pilot Program, was introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke D-Hampton and Del. Chris Collins, R-Frederick.
“Virginia localities have some of the highest rates of evictions in the nation, yet there are clear gaps our ability to obtain tangible data and fully address this crisis in our commonwealth,” Northam said in a written statement.
Northam said the pilot program “will assist the state in developing stronger methods for preventing evictions and expanding important protections for all renters in Virginia.”
The legislation is part of a broader evictions package backed by the Virginia Housing Commission and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. The commission began to study ways to curb evictions last year following a New York Times article based on data from a study of nationwide evictions data.
The data, compiled by a research team led by Princeton sociologist and author Matthew Desmond, showed that half of the 10 large U.S. cities with the highest eviction rates are in Virginia.
Their ranking showed Richmond had the second-highest eviction rate in the country. Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Chesapeake also ranked among the top 10.