Surge in homelessness possible with stalled stimulus talks, eminent evictions

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — The pandemic has primarily been hard on people without jobs and struggling to pay their own rent, and a new surge in homelessness may come about in the coming months.

Families have been evicted, others unemployed on the verge of being kicked out, amid a stimulus stalemate in Washington, growing the possibility America’s housing problem could worsen, including in Virginia.

In the last 30 days, 426 people have been sheltered, according to Kelly King Horne, executive director of Homeward which works to coordinate homeless services in the greater Richmond region.

King Horne says the four hundred-plus figure is on par with last year. However, the current federal eviction moratorium is helping keep that number stable—for now.

“The things that we are watching closely are the eviction moratorium, the number of people who are able to access rent relief, and then what happens in the broader housing and jobs market,” King Horne said.

Local shelters are still helping house people in hotels as the Centers for Disease Control maintains people who are homeless, are at risk of COVID-19. Shelters are confined spaces, and many people who are homeless are older and have underlying medical conditions.

If the CDC’s eviction moratorium for most tenant circumstances is not extended past the end of December, and if federal lawmakers don’t strike a deal on more stimulus payments, King Horne is worried more will lose a home–prevention is key.

“Expanding hours at the homeless crisis line, (804-972-0813) which we are working to step up right now. Making sure people are accessing and eviction prevention resources now,” she said.

Rent and mortgage relief in the Richmond area; ‘ACTS‘ is a local organization to help.

Volunteer opportunities exist for those interested to assist local homeless shelters and services: Homeward.org and RVAStrong.org.

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