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Affordable housing residents fear eviction due to COVID-19

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Posted at 11:32 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 00:12:19-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As the nation continues to battle the Coronavirus, thousands of Virginians are hoping they don't lose the roof over their heads in the middle of the pandemic, particularly those living in affordable housing.

"This is a public health crisis that we are dealing with," Monica Jefferson said.

On Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was the moderator for panel series called "Color of COVID," which discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on people of color in affordable housing.

"How can we make it an even level playing field. That is part of the racial inequality that is really impacting individuals," Monica Jefferson said.

Monica Jefferson is the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Incorporated. She said right now people who don't get paid high wages need answers.

"85 to 95 percent of these people are working. They can't afford to stay where they are," Jefferson said. "Everyone deserves equal access to housing and a safe decent place to live."

Advocates for those fighting to keep their homes said in the last two weeks, over 10,000 eviction cases have been heard throughout the state as people struggle to keep their jobs-and secure unemployment benefits.

Gwendolyn Harris lives in Creighton Court and shared her frustration with the Mayor Wednesday.

"Right now there's no trust between RRHA sand the residents, that`s point-blank," Harris said. "No matter what you do at the bottom level, if you don't start at the top, we won't get nothing changed."

Going forward, everyone on the panel agreed that policies need to be put into place to help make housing affordable for everyone.

"We not only have to continue the work we were doing prior to COVID-19 but we've got to double down in investing in communities that have been marginalized," Mayor Stoney said.

Candice Turner, Social Worker and Family Transition Coach, Richmond City Health District was also apart of Wednesday's panel discussion.