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Why a Richmond family is facing eviction despite eviction moratorium

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Posted at 6:59 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 18:59:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond family says they are still facing eviction, despite a eviction moratorium in effect across Virginia.

Ebony Williams is a mother of five and she cares for her 86-year-old dad.

After falling behind on rent and experiencing a fire in her apartment, Williams says the complex relocated them to a smaller unit, renting out their three bedroom to someone else after repairing it.

Now, she says her family has three weeks to find a place to live due to an eviction notice.

Like many others, Williams was relieved to find out about a recent eviction moratorium the Virginia Supreme Court issued at the request of Governor Ralph Northam.

But Palmer Heenan, a local attorney with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, warns not everyone and every situation is covered under the moratorium.

"All that does is prevent you from being physically removed. So, if you have a court date to go to the City of Richmond General District Court or Chesterfield or Henrico, you still have to go to that court date," said Heenan.

Heenan says he sees the growing concern first hand every day.

"In the City of Richmond General District Court alone the week of August 31 there are 519 unlawful detainers or eviction lawsuits scheduled before the court," said Heenan. "The pain in our community right now is real. People are actively suffering."

Though he says the moratorium is physically keeping some tenants in their homes, it's just a temporary fix.

"The Virginia Supreme Court orders are meant to buy time until a comprehensive solution can be generated. We are really hoping that the governor and the GA will take seriously the problem Virginians are facing during this pandemic," he added.

Under the moratorium, tenants cannot physically be removed from their homes between August 10 and September 7.

It is important to note that only pertains to nonpayment of rent, meaning landlords can still evict tenants for other reasons.