Public housing

Majority of families in social housing are behind on rent | Richmond Free Press

More than half of tenants in Richmond’s social housing communities – 55% – are now in arrears with rent, according to a report provided to City Council on Monday.

Currently, 1,744 households owe $1.8 million in overdue rent, Stacey Daniels-Fayson, acting chief executive of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, told City Council.

Ms Daniels-Fayson said this represents an increase of 237 households since January, when she reported that 1,507 households, or 48% of the 3,127 households living in RRHA properties, were in arrears. At that time, the arrears amounted to $1.5 million.

Of most concern, she said, are the 886 households that owe $500 or more in back rent, with some owing between $1,000 and $5,000. The remaining 858 households owe between $50 and $500, she said.

She told the RRHA Board of Commissioners that a representative from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which owns public housing and funds some of the public housing operations, said “the RRHA is not the only” to have a large number of overdue tenants.

The RRHA has already collected more than $4 million in rent through the state’s $1 billion rental assistance program, plans to collect another $500,000, and has applications pending for another 533. households.

This state rent relief program has provided significant assistance to the RRHA and other landlords. As of December 31, the program had paid $598.6 million in 121,401 relief payments to 85,271 households across the state. Some of the households were in arrears with rent at least twice and this was paid under the program.

Still, Ms. Daniels-Fayson told the council that the RRHA is not rushing to evict families who have fallen behind, especially the 886 households that owe $500 or more who would be the initial targets.

She said the RRHA follows state law requirements to ensure that landlords and/or tenants first apply for rent assistance before eviction proceedings can begin.

As part of the RRHA process, she reconfirmed that RRHA is working with community groups to survey tenants who have fallen behind to ensure they are participating with RRHA in implementing the state program. which was put in place to limit evictions of hard-pressed tenants during the pandemic.

She also confirmed that until full canvassing is completed and all overdue households are contacted, the RRHA will not commence lease enforcement activities, indicating that court filings for eviction will not would probably start not before March and potentially not before April.

RRHA, however, cannot postpone execution of the lease indefinitely. HUD regulations require each public housing authority to collect rent and ultimately evict families who don’t pay as agreed.

City council members are concerned about the number of families who could lose their homes, which would add to the number of homeless people in the city.

According to the RRHA, about two-thirds of families living in public housing receive income from a job or a government program such as Social Security. However, a third, or nearly 1,000 households, have no income to declare, according to the RRHA, making it virtually impossible for them to find alternative accommodation if they are evicted.