Evictions, Race, and the Power of Community Mobilization
Due to intentionally racist policies that cause wealth disparities along racial lines to this day, Black and Brown Virginians already bear the brunt of gentrification, housing instability, and housing discrimination. At the best of times, housing can be unaffordable. Nationally, there are just 22 counties out of more than 3,000 where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent—and zero counties where they could afford a two-bedroom apartment. Virginia is regularly at the bottom of the list when it comes to ensuring its residents have a place to call home. In 2016 our capital city of Richmond had the second-highest eviction rate in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic is turning an eviction crisis into a catastrophe. Nearly 1/8 of the state’s workforce has filed for unemployment. While wealthier residents may have supports to fall back on, the long-standing racial wealth gap means many communities of color do not. A recent Pew Research Survey showed that 77% of low-income U.S. residents and 73% of Black residents did not have emergency savings that would cover their expenses for three months.