Leaders of VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement) cautiously welcomed the announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a nationwide eviction moratorium through Dec. 31, but noted that Congress and the Administration still need to work together to provide significant funding to prevent huge rental housing market instability after the ban expires.
VOICE leaders will continue to press the General Assembly, currently meeting in special session, and Gov. Ralph Northam to provide at least $200 million in new funding for the Governor’s Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, as well as additional protections for renters. Those include closing current loopholes that landlords can exploit to evict renters and ensure tenants who owe rent do not have their credit ruined, and in so doing make finding a new home nearly impossible.
“The announcement of the federal eviction moratorium is a welcome sign of the growing acknowledgment that forcing families to live on the streets or turn to shelters, or to crowd into living spaces with others, is, not only morally wrong, but likely seriously harmful to the health of our communities during this pandemic,” said Rev. Clyde W. Ellis, Jr., a VOICE leader and Senior Pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Woodbridge.” We look to Gov. Northam and the General Assembly to step up now and add provisions to create a moratorium that truly protects our families in Virginia.”
He noted that ensuring community health and safety in Virginia will require commitment from federal, state, and local governments to keep families in their homes while the pandemic rages and children in much of the state are mandated to stay at home to learn at the start of this school year.
During the pandemic shutdown in the spring, VOICE talked with more than 2,000 Virginians and learned that fear of not making rent was the number one concern. Since then, VOICE has played a key role in efforts to win successive eviction moratoriums, together with significant funding for rent relief to enable tenants to pay off at least a portion of their rent debt and landlords to pay on mortgages.
VOICE is a multi-faith, non-partisan citizen’s power organization comprised of religious and community institutions representing more than 180,000 households in Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William counties and the city of Alexandria. For information on VOICE’s success at effecting change on creation of a public defender’s office in Prince William County, elimination of the state practice of suspending drivers’ licenses for unpaid court debt, mortgage-foreclosure relief, affordable housing, dental care for low-income residents, expanded pre-K opportunities for low-income children, securing local funds for park and athletic facility renovation, and other issues, go to www.voice-iaf.org.