Evictions occur for many reasons

Although it has been several years since I served on the board of the Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority and I am not at all familiar with current polices of the authority, I feel compelled to comment on the article in the Aug. 4 issue of The News & Advance about the authority’s eviction policy (“Eviction suits mount in public housing”).

Fortunately, I am one of many who care deeply about the housing needs of all who call Central Virginia home. I am certain that every current member of the authority’s board takes great pride in the authority’s role in providing decent, safe, affordable housing to those who qualify for housing assistance from the authority.

Readers should be made aware that the occupants of public housing pay rent according to their ability to pay. Every occupant of the authority’s public housing is receiving subsidized rent. (At one time when I served on the authority board, several residents paid no rent at all. I believe that all were elderly, disabled adults subsisting on meager Social Security income. I do not know if that is still the case.) In other words, since the amount of rent charged is based on the tenant’s current income — and therefore the ability to pay — there should be no tenant who cannot pay the rent they are being charged unless their circumstances drastically change in which case the rent charged would be adjusted.

Readers should also be made aware that all evictions are not due to overdue rent payments. Some, I am certain, are the result of violations of the rental agreement. For example, the authority has a zero tolerance for drugs on LRHA property.

For years, there has been a long waiting list of people eligible for public housing for whom no units are available. I am certain that many of these individuals are housed in substandard housing and pray for the day when decent and affordable housing will finally be available to them. What a wonderful thing it would be if there was a surplus of affordable housing units in Central Virginia. That — as everyone knows — is not the case.

Does it not make sense then for the authority to offer housing to those on the waiting list who are willing both to pay the rent owed and abide by the rules? I believe the answer is an unqualified yes.



Editor’s note: The writer served on the Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority board of directors from 2002 to 2014 and was chairwoman from 2010 to 2014.

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