Photo by Thad Zajdowicz. Courtesy of Unsplash.com

Photo by Thad Zajdowicz. Courtesy of Unsplash.com

According to a report released from Princeton University's Eviction lab, Hampton Roads has one of the highest rental eviction rates in the country. Host Cathy Lewis recently discussed the number of issues within the Hampton Roads area with guests, Sarah Black, an attorney and the Deputy Director for the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, and Lavonne Pledger, Head of Tenant Management Council for Young's Terrace. 

About a third of the Hampton Roads region is considered "rent burdened", where residents spend 50 percent or more of their income on rent. This may be due to a variety of factors, such as low vacancy rates, disproprortionate prices, low minimum wage and the high cost of living.

"We have a problem with the minimum wage not reflecting the cost of living," says Sarah Black, a local attorney. "There was a study done by the Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority which provided a snapshot that as of July 2016, there were only 506 vacancies city-wide."

The Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority (NRHA) manages different low income, rental communities throughout the Norfolk area. They offer two types of housing programs: the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Assisted Rental Housing. HCV otherwise known as Section 8 housing, renters receive a voucher based on income and guidelines set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to find suitable and affordable housing, where rent does not exceed 30 percent of the renter's overall income and is privately owned. Assisted Rental Housing is similar to the HCV except that it a public housing community chosen for the renter and also provides programs for residents to achieve economic independence.

Unfortunately, the need for affordable housing has grown and getting approved for these different rental communities is not as easy as one would think.

"In the city of Norfolk, the public housing waitlist is 932 people, approximately. The waitlist for the housing choice voucher program is 600 people," Black says.

Lavonne Pledger, Head of Tenant Management Council For Young's Terrace, a public housing community managed by NFHA, feels that client services for people in these public housing communities are inefficient at best.

"The trouble is that these guys [client services] are making $47,000 a year helping us find jobs that pay like $10 an hour," Pledger says. "There is a big gap, and right now, we are on the losing side."

He notes that this housing predicament has become the norm for these communities and that the community should be creating generational wealth and investing in itself instead of receiving small handouts here and there.

"The situation is just a big cycle and it's been a big cycle for the longest time where it's creating poverty, generational poverty," he says.

"It's not enough--- there's no way to break it."

Listen to the segment from the show:

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Listen to past episodes of Hearsay with Cathy Lewis.

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