Evictions, paused by pandemic, now greenlighted in Virginia


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The COVID-19 crisis put the brakes on most evictions, but now evictions are greenlighted under an order issued by the Virginia Supreme Court.

Advocates for the poor predict disaster for the region’s most vulnerable residents if evictions resume June 29.

Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia is bracing for Monday morning. A judge in Newport News is scheduled to hear 42 eviction cases beginning at 8:30 am and another 39 cases at 2 pm.

The scene could be repeated in courtrooms all over the state.

Raymond Hartz, the executive director of Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, is concerned men, women and children could end up on the streets.

“There is really no safety net. There aren’t even shelters really open right now,” said Hartz.

Some guardrails are in place to protect those whose rent or mortgage is federally subsidized.

Portsmouth-based principal real estate broker Lisa Doud has a sympathetic ear for tenants who make payment arrangements, but for those who don’t have arrangements for payment, eviction may imminent.

“Anybody who has actually come in and made payment arrangements with my office — we have no problem working with you. The people who have not given us dates as to when they think they can pay, or not even returning our phone calls — those are the people who are the first in line to go,” said Doud.

Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia will be in courtrooms to help tenants facing eviction. Hartz suggests tenants call ahead to see they qualify for legal aid and show up for court.

“The case is going forward. If you are not there you can be evicted,” said Hartz.

A. Williams of Portsmouth is current on her rent, but is concerned for others who could end up on the streets.

”We have to be on survival mode. I don’t think it’s right for them to just evict people who need time or more assistance, said Williams.

Advocates are hopeful the governor will issue an executive order to extend the moratorium.

To learn if you qualify for assistance from Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia call 757-627-5423 or check out the organization’s website: https://www.laseva.org/

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