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Thousands without jobs in Virginia ask for rent freeze

Posted at 12:09 AM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 00:09:04-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of workers in Virginia who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 are begging state leaders to place a freeze on rent payments.

Vanessa Bolin is one of those people.

"It’s impacted people in a way that is terrifying," Bolin said. "Every single engagement I had, every training I had, has been canceled."

The traveling public speaker is now focused on keeping her social distance inside her house on Richmond’s Northside. She shares her living space with other people.

“It’s a way to keep rent affordable for people who need or want to live in the city," Bolin said.

Bolin is concerned about people who have been laid off and can’t afford rent.

"I've had people reaching out worried about their utilities being cut off. They're worried about their landlords who are forcing them or putting pressure on them to pay their rent," Bolin said.

The Supreme Court of Virginia recently declared a Judicial Emergency in response to COVID-19, which stops evictions through the end of April.

Meanwhile organizations like the New Virginia Majority, that work with low income tenants across the state have collected signatures from tenants demanding the state freeze rent pay.

“Now you have a large body of people who could barely make the rent on a good month, who are now not only going to have to pay the upfront rent so to speak, but they’re going to to have an accrued back rent," said Jon Liss, Co-Executive Director of New Virginia Majority

Bolin believes landlords should be working with their tenants.

"I'm super blessed that I have a really amazing landlord," Bolin said. "Who has reached out to each one of us individually and said what can you do this month, if you can’t do anything, it’s okay, I’m in good shape. We’re going to be okay, we’re going to get through this.”

Landlords can still file for an eviction through the court system, but under the judicial emergency, cases would not be heard until May.